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Why do poets write about animals? What can poetry do for animals and what can animals do for poetry? In some cases, poetry inscribes meaning on animals, turning them into symbols or caricatures and bringing them into the confines of human culture. It also reveals and revels in the complexity of animals. Poetry, through its great variety and its inherently experimental nature, has embraced the multifaceted nature of animals to cross, blur, and reimagine the boundaries between human and animal.In Poetry and Animals, Onno Oerlemans explores a broad range of English-language poetry about animals from the Middle Ages to the contemporary world. He presents a taxonomy of kinds of animal poems, breaking down the categories and binary oppositions at the root of human thinking about animals. The book considers several different types of poetry: allegorical poems, poems about “the animal” broadly conceived, poems about species of animal, poems about individual animals or the animal as individual, and poems about hybrids and hybridity. Through careful readings of dozens of poems that reveal generous and often sympathetic approaches to recognizing and valuing animals’ difference and similarity, Oerlemans demonstrates how the forms and modes of poetry can sensitize us to the moral standing of animals and give us new ways to think through the problems of the human-animal divide.
Acerca de Onno Oerlemans
Onno Oerlemans is Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Hamilton College. He is the author of Romanticism and the Materiality of Nature (Toronto, 2002).
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