The Animal in the Room
Deer with binoculars, wolves with resumes: bioengineered poetry that unsettles truth, fact, and history.
Animals are strange testing grounds for thinking about subjectivity, language, the body — really, anything you might want to write a poem about. Together, these poems are an evolutionary chart or a little bestiary – about deer, wolves, evolution, environmental collapse, and extinction. Each one stands alone as a contained organism, but like real animals, they share some genetic material with each other. Considering PTSD and anxiety disorder as a kind of animal experience, a self-protective mechanism, these poems embody the selves we see reflected in the natural world’s creatures. Deer are a way of putting fear and trauma outside yourself, wolves a way to understand the instincts of predators.
"Oh the pleasure of inhabiting the mind of an animal like Meghan Kemp-Gee! Her poetry is curious, restless, uneasy, and imaginative; it is also highly disciplined, unfolds in precisely measured lines. Watch for brilliant uses of repetition — the slipperiness of meaning, its ever-doubling character, is on full display, played out in deft linguistic twists. A deadpan delivery amplifies the oddity of what’s encountered: arsenic-drunk wildcats, chlorinated orchids, the 'one painful spot of blue' in a deer’s eye. I can’t say strongly enough how grateful I am to have read this collection; don’t miss it." – Sue Sinclair, author of Almost Beauty: New and Selected Poems
"Kemp-Gee is a gifted satirist, whose wandering and wondering eye makes The Animal in the Room a fully unique book." – Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
"In The Animal in the Room, Meghan Kemp-Gee develops a poetics of the Anthropocene. . . this collection of poetry can be seen as a compendium of reflections on the age of human impact." – Jane Frankish, The British Columbia Review
"From wolves handing out resumés, to quiet observations on the feeding habits of deer ticks, throughout the collection we witness not only Kemp-Gee’s insightful use of animals as a way to explore human behaviour, but also the way our gaze towards animals can be turned inward." – David Ly, Plenitude Magazine