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.”
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.
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.
. . . 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 . . .
. . . gaze is superseded by sharp observation that yields vivid visual imagery and invites immersion.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.
. . . a free, appealing style. . . [Mackowski's[ landscapes are crisp, colorful, and her indoor settings just as precise.
A virtuoso performance. . . .Contains many delightful surprises and not a few ideas worth considering.
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.
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.learn more