Night Animals

Night Animals


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The poems in Night Animals, by Yusef Komunyakaa, climb so deeply into the being of various beasts, from cricket to leopard to snowy owl, that we read them with an uncanny shiver of recognition. Without ever fully abandoning his human skin, Komunyakaa inhabits both the outer and inner lives of these creatures. The images are a brilliant match for the poems, each of Rachel Bliss’s surreal animals populate a realm somewhere between our two species—birds with teeth, men with antlers, a duck wearing suspenders. Both image and word are dense and dark, intensely focused around a kind of hunger. The poet has been startling us with his rich, disturbing, and important poems for many years. Night Animals extends Yusef Komunyakaa’s remarkable oeuvre.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781946448583
Publisher: Sarabande Books
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Series: Quarternote Chapbook Series
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 493,104
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Yusef Komunyakaa’s books of poetry include Dien Cai Dau, Neon Vernacular, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize, Talking Dirty to the Gods, Warhorses, Emperor of Water Clocks, and Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth (forthcoming from FSG in 2020). His honors include the William Faulkner Prize (Université Rennes, France), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and the 2011 Wallace Stevens Award. His plays, performance art and libretti have been performed internationally and include Saturnalia, Wakonda’s Dream, Testimony, and Gilgamesh. He teaches at New York University.

Rachel Bliss is a Philadelphia-based artist whose work depicts a visual innuendo that is as surreal as the environment she is a part of. Since 1991, Bliss has exhibited in galleries and museums including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, James A. Michener Museum, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Coombs Contemporary Gallery in London and the Alternative Museum in New York. Bliss’ art has been commissioned by and featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Village Voice, Penguin Books, and The New Yorker. She is the founder and curator of The Drawing Room in Philadelphia.

Read an Excerpt


She crawls to the edge

on bright paws, to where humans come

to argue with gods

as the lampblack hours fill up

with the scent of animals.

The horizon is a strand of barbed wire

shadows shimmy under to look

death in the eye,

quivering like a seam of flesh

unzipping earth from sky.

Her quietness is almost vegetable.

She owns light & darkness.

The unsaid lingers—twofold

& then threefold—her great head

beckoning halfway across the abyss.

She edges so close

her skin is metaphysical,

her brain a hum,

a lantern with eyes

printed on wings.

Table of Contents

The Blue Hour 1

Night 3

Tree Ghost 4

Night Song 5

Flying Foxes at Transit of Venus 7

Several Mysteries of the Platypus 9

The Leopard 10

Snow Tiger 11

Night Scene 13

From a Distance 15

Tonight 16

Night-Blooming Cereus & Façade 17

Another Fund of Night 19

Nighthawk 20

Nightriders 21

Blind Fish 22

Night of the Armadillo 23

Self-Portrait at Night 25

A Note on Tasmania 27

Aye-Aye 29

Nightly 30

Crossing the Divide 31

Night Gigging 33

About the Author & the Artist

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