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Animal Soul (Contemporary Classics Poetry Series)

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Chosen alongside celebrated poets Louise Glück and Czeslaw Milosz, Bob Hicok’s Animal Soul was the standout surprise of the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award nominations. According to author David Wojahn, a three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, this collection of poetry “is the best collection yet by a poet who has become one of the most individual and necessary v Chosen alongside celebrated poets Louise Glück and Czeslaw Milosz, Bob Hicok’s Animal Soul was the standout surprise of the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award nominations. According to author David Wojahn, a three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, this collection of poetry “is the best collection yet by a poet who has become one of the most individual and necessary voices of his generation. An almost prophetic rage seems to inhabit these poems, which present us with a speaker who is tender and brutally rueful by turns. Bob Hicok asks to be a voice of conscience in a conscience-less world. And, like all true prophets, his rage and consternation in the end transform themselves into a form of prayer, what one of his poems calls a ‘mad . . . devotion.’ Hicok is able to instruct and console us, and that is a very rare thing indeed.”


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Chosen alongside celebrated poets Louise Glück and Czeslaw Milosz, Bob Hicok’s Animal Soul was the standout surprise of the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award nominations. According to author David Wojahn, a three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, this collection of poetry “is the best collection yet by a poet who has become one of the most individual and necessary v Chosen alongside celebrated poets Louise Glück and Czeslaw Milosz, Bob Hicok’s Animal Soul was the standout surprise of the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award nominations. According to author David Wojahn, a three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, this collection of poetry “is the best collection yet by a poet who has become one of the most individual and necessary voices of his generation. An almost prophetic rage seems to inhabit these poems, which present us with a speaker who is tender and brutally rueful by turns. Bob Hicok asks to be a voice of conscience in a conscience-less world. And, like all true prophets, his rage and consternation in the end transform themselves into a form of prayer, what one of his poems calls a ‘mad . . . devotion.’ Hicok is able to instruct and console us, and that is a very rare thing indeed.”

30 review for Animal Soul (Contemporary Classics Poetry Series)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    Bob Hicok is full of love and compassion - for grandmothers, parents, uncles, abused children, nature, sturgeon, his wife. His poems are sometimes a window into the blue-collar ordinariness of the world he used to belong to, when he owned an automotive die manufacturing business. Or he's thinking about death; "Sorting Out the Entanglements" begins, "In my will the basement goes to the spiders." "I enjoy the image of a lawyer reading my will to the spiders." "...Bombs are messy whereas Shop Vacs we Bob Hicok is full of love and compassion - for grandmothers, parents, uncles, abused children, nature, sturgeon, his wife. His poems are sometimes a window into the blue-collar ordinariness of the world he used to belong to, when he owned an automotive die manufacturing business. Or he's thinking about death; "Sorting Out the Entanglements" begins, "In my will the basement goes to the spiders." "I enjoy the image of a lawyer reading my will to the spiders." "...Bombs are messy whereas Shop Vacs were designed for people who fear lint and want to vacuum water." In "A Small Blasphemy" he writes about a small child viewing a dead grandmother at her funeral: "...hoisted, then told to say good-bye to a lace dress wearing closed eyes." I'm trying to find a figurative explanation for "What Fine Kindling the Homeless Make" but I think it really is about burning homeless people. "...no two people burn in precisely the same manner or with screams of equally operatic worth. I remain open to possibilities. The iron maiden may have been necessary to the development of the PosturePedic. I might open a book at random to a passage about St. Augustine opening a book at random." Although, in a poem called "Critique of Pure Unreason," he seems to want to be taken figuratively: "If I meant to be taken literally I'd have a bigger body, better breath, the voice of a vice so the bones of strangers would be easier to hold, easier to channel into stocks or whatever water-sports my literal self deems relevant for minions." And more about death, and love, in "Did I ever tell you about my love/hate relationship with confessional poetry?": "Even now you could ask that I imagine a field and instead of poppies waving blue heads I'd picture a tractor on fire, smoke and a farmer standing back, resigned with hands in pockets as if this too is just a change of season. The other thing I get wrong most of the time is caring about people. For instance: recently blood collected in my grandmother where blood shouldn't, everything she said came out like Jiffy Pop on the stove just before the foil rips, people cried and the hospital was a factory of indifference and I scurried home to write a poem about death."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Tennis

    Nice collection of poems – the first I had read from this author. Suggested to me by my writing mentor. All in all an enjoyable read. A few that stuck out worth mentioning. • “I’d go to jail for that. My dream date doesn’t begin with the question, What’cha in for boy?” – p. 7, from Sorting the Entanglements • Pol Pot’s Class Reunion – p. 43 • 33 – p. 44 • “ I caught a sturgeon once // without bait. My uncle said // we were both stupid, one for believing // in a hook, the other for wading // shoeles Nice collection of poems – the first I had read from this author. Suggested to me by my writing mentor. All in all an enjoyable read. A few that stuck out worth mentioning. • “I’d go to jail for that. My dream date doesn’t begin with the question, What’cha in for boy?” – p. 7, from Sorting the Entanglements • Pol Pot’s Class Reunion – p. 43 • 33 – p. 44 • “ I caught a sturgeon once // without bait. My uncle said // we were both stupid, one for believing // in a hook, the other for wading // shoeless into the Mississippi.” – p. 60, Book Report

  3. 4 out of 5

    Keith Taylor

    This was the book that started getting Hicok a larger audience. I was able to write something about this, and about Hicok's changing reputation back in 2002: https://annarborobserver.com/articles... This was the book that started getting Hicok a larger audience. I was able to write something about this, and about Hicok's changing reputation back in 2002: https://annarborobserver.com/articles...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karon Luddy

    May 19, 2004 A Palpable Intimacy The thing I like most about Bob Hicok’s Animal Soul is that you can turn to any page and be enchanted by ideas, images and the indelible heart of the poet. The title is memorable and lovely— it speaks of two things—our animal nature and our spiritual essence, which points to the whole issue of human embodiment. Hicok comes to our all-too-human party, as the Guru of All Things Apparently Whimsical, but the depth of Hicok’s whims can’t be measured. He also steps ont May 19, 2004 A Palpable Intimacy The thing I like most about Bob Hicok’s Animal Soul is that you can turn to any page and be enchanted by ideas, images and the indelible heart of the poet. The title is memorable and lovely— it speaks of two things—our animal nature and our spiritual essence, which points to the whole issue of human embodiment. Hicok comes to our all-too-human party, as the Guru of All Things Apparently Whimsical, but the depth of Hicok’s whims can’t be measured. He also steps onto each page as the Silent Sage of This Very Moment. Hicok invites the reader into the volume with an aptly and reverentially titled poem, “Whither Thou Goest.” The poem has a no matter whatness to it, the I in the poem has his issues and so does the unnamed thou, but through the mercy of the bond, he promises to be there, conspicuously mad in his devotion. On a provocative literary level, the poem is written to Thou, the reader, which is a pretty nice way to be greeted! Ultimately, this poet in this volume of poetry is the the foolish seeker and eloquent finder of miracles and it’s perfectly obvious he wants to tell you about all of them. Ironically, yet appropriately, structure of this radiant volume is straightforward. A provocative, telling cover: the head of a man or a mannequin with spiral lenses in his glasses. A meaningful title. A contents page broken into four distinct sections. Sections I-III have 8 poems. Section IV has 10 poems. An appropriate epigram about an I persona trying to remember the name of an animal that sings in the water and other people making suggestions, but then I remembers Sirens, which of course, are semi-human seductresses, whose songs destroy those who seek their source. Thematically, sirens bear significant metaphoric weight because the very last line in the book is an invocation of the I to include You into not reaching for the vowel, but to give silence back. Brilliant.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    Bob Hicok is the poet I wish I could be. When I wrote poetry I flipped continuously between aspiring to improve myself to some bastardized imitation of him, and lamenting that I couldn't really even do that. What Would Freud Say remains one of my favorite contemporary poems. Who else references both Judas and Dagwood from Blondie? Bob Hicok is the poet I wish I could be. When I wrote poetry I flipped continuously between aspiring to improve myself to some bastardized imitation of him, and lamenting that I couldn't really even do that. What Would Freud Say remains one of my favorite contemporary poems. Who else references both Judas and Dagwood from Blondie?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonas

    Got to attend a craft talk, workshop and evening reading with Hicok last year and his work, excites me! His poems veer, jag and go sideways resembling a debris strewn trail of thought or the way memory returns. Dealing in a fragmented currency, the poems feel wild and surprising as if even Hicok doesn’t know where his explorations will lead.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    With a couple of problematic notes, Animal Soul is otherwise an amazing contemporary poetry collection. However, Catherynne Valente's review of the collection says just about everything I could say, better. http://yuki-onna.livejournal.com/6224... With a couple of problematic notes, Animal Soul is otherwise an amazing contemporary poetry collection. However, Catherynne Valente's review of the collection says just about everything I could say, better. http://yuki-onna.livejournal.com/6224...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Harrison

    "Enough snow for tracks and blood, enough moon to imply / that light's everlasting, a grace of the abiding / sky." an excerpt from, "Perpetual Resurrection" "Enough snow for tracks and blood, enough moon to imply / that light's everlasting, a grace of the abiding / sky." an excerpt from, "Perpetual Resurrection"

  9. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm Alexander

    I finally finished this book and the poems in the last section caused me to up my rating to five stars. Yes, read this!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Hennessy

    Great (hard to believe it) poetry.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Noel

    Powerful meditations on the monstrous as a mix of human and animal gone slightly (but not perhaps irreparably) wrong.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Logan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Curry

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gina Franco

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Smith

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shane

  20. 4 out of 5

    katieriddle

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

  22. 4 out of 5

    Schuyler

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emmett Moore

  24. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susanna

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Siegel

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pookie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert Stewart

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

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