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January 2002
80 pages  

6 x 8.25
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The Zoo
Mackowski, Joanie
Selected by Li-Young Lee as the Winner of the 2000 Associated Writing Programs’ Award Series in Poetry, this debut collection of poems illuminates details that make the familiar seem strange.

Winner of the 2002 Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University.
Joanie Mackowski is assistant professor of English at Cornell University and author of the poetry collection The Zoo. Her awards include the Emily Dickinson Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the Associated Writing Programs Award in Poetry, the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Grant, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. Mackowski's poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2007 and 2009, the Yale Review, Poetry, the American Scholar, New England Review, Raritan, Southwest Review, the Kenyon Review, and other journals.
“Elegance and predation, beauty and terror, light and shadow. This fine volume of poems proceeds by integrating contradictory and opposing tendencies to create a high-tension field of psychic proportions. These poems mine our true homeland, the in-between place."—Li-Young Lee

“the vivid meditations in this debut collection can take strange turns and reveal the often unnoticed world around us. . . .As Mackowski makes clear, Earth is a wonderland--all we have to do is look around. This sia smart and fascinating volume.”—Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Center, Philadelphia

“The poet’s unrelenting pursuit of the perfect phrase ... illustrates a true mastery of craft and of patience. Nothing is slipshod or wasted; the book moves slowly, as if underwater, with that kind of deliberation and grace.” —Camille-Yvette Welsch, Foreword Magazine, Spring 2002

“ . . . her first collection . . . is a high-spirited survey of our peculiar species, oten with parallel glances at other animals . . . Mackowski’s wit stands her in good stead . . . She has talent to burn . . .”—Poetry , September 2002

“. . . gaze is superseded by sharp observation that yields vivid visual imagery and invites immersion. . . . Mackowski’s rhymes, myriad and ingenious, are one of the most impressive features of The Zoo.”—Stephen Yenser, Yale Review, April 2003

“ . . . a free, appealing style. . . [Mackowski’s[ landscapes are crisp, colorful, and her indoor settings just as precise.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4/30/03

“A virtuoso performance. . . .Contains many delightful surprises and not a few ideas worth considering.”—John Taylor, Antioch Review, Fall 2003

“This is a most unpretentious title for an unpretentious book, which nevertheless reveals an astonishing talent. The reader will come upon many a lovely, subtle, graceful and patiently composed poem. . . . Mackowski is a sensual poet, constantly addressed and caressed by sensations and lovingly caressing them in return with the fingertips of her womanly words.”—Alan J. Clayton, Shenandoah, Fall 2004

Complete Description Reviews
Pitt Poetry Series Table of Contents
Poetry Read a selection from this book

Winner of the 2000 Associated Writing Programs’ Award in Poetry Selected by Li-Young Lee Joanie Mackowski’s debut collection of poetry is meditative, vivid, sometimes weird. Turning an idiosyncratic eye to the inhabitants of zoos and fish tanks, cafes and cemeteries, she illuminates details that make the familiar seem strange. An egret stands "still as a glass of milk"; iceberg lettuce is a "vegetable leviathan" that "extends beneath the dinner table / an unseen, monstrous green"; a bald eagle may "love a jet?— / or worship them all, or mock them, rigid / freaks that never linger." An insistent musicality fills these poems, whether asking, "Ailing, alien, alone, / are you ill in your ear or in error?" exhorting, "Remember the Alamo, remember Armageddon, / remember the mustard and chard in your garden," or reflecting, "one does wonder what one does wonder one does." Mackowski’s practical metaphysics and desperate wit puzzle the boundary between essence and ornament, revelation and disguise, reason and the loss of it.


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