Between Encounter and Release: Animal Presences in Two Contemporary American Poems
This chapter considers two poems that foreground a speaker’s intimacy or identification with another animal, discussed through the language of positioning. The speakers stand either in proximity to or at a distance from the animals they discuss. These encounters are ended or suspended through gestures of release from positions negotiated through (with or against) ontological category differences used to separate humans and animals. However, far from signaling the speaker’s willingness to give up on relating to or willingness to give into vague celebrations of difference, these gestures are supported by processes of self-scrutiny that acknowledge the precarity of relating.
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