Winner of the 2014 Turtle Island Poetry Award, Katherine Soniat’s philosophical collection The Goodbye Animals encompasses a very large world as it tackles humanity’s heaviest questions of birth and death, commemorating life, the world, and all of its creatures. While acknowledging life’s many pitfalls, Soniat still urges us to “breathe with the birds and let wrath dissipate.” She reminds us of the interconnectedness of all things, “the intimacy of time,” and “our cold lineage space.” She assures us that we as humans still possess a kinship with all that breathes, all that still roams this planet. We learn that “nothing is too small,” “Before us the void was/ immeasurable” and “Without plans, everything/had presence” promising us that all that is living has a place somewhere.
Mythological figures (Orpheus, Eurydice, Aphrodite) point to Soniat’s artistic lineage, again telling us that we are all echoes of one another, all of us beginning as mere embryos, cells, “vibrant in the amniotic pool.” And then life and time moves us so that the “…body has a hole behind the heart/with a lock in front—and a measure/of animal dampness breathes between.”
In the poem “Arrival,” the speaker says, “Soon I’ll have the moon to myself” but don’t be fooled: this is an extremely generous collection that is an invitation to the reader to take on the different identities of our fellow creatures,--our brothers and sisters—to take part in a world much bigger than ourselves, to “Say come here my ready heart/murmur in the frequency of whale.” I’m ready. Are you?
If you would like a copy of The Goodbye Animals you may do so here, at FootHills Publishing.