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The Cow

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  338 ratings  ·  41 reviews

This text is filthy and fertilized, filling and emptying, filling and emptying, atrocious and politic with meaning. The Cow is a mother, a lover, and a murdered lump of meat, rendered in the strongest of languages. "I cannot count the altering that happens in the very large rooms that are the guts of her."

Paperback, 107 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Fence Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 757)
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Nathan Hirstein
This a terrifying fuckbook, and it sort of makes me wish my asshole weren't so dirty, and that I didn't ever want my parts to touch other peoples' pieces, and that everybody had kittens instead of cocks and bowls of milk for vaginas. Like everything was in a picture book your mom read you. But guess what. This is life and we're living where our temples are in sewers and it is fucking repugnant.
Have you ever been to a landfill? Once I went with my dad to a landfill. I was surprised that it was open to the public. Vultures wheeled overhead. We drove through mountains of trash until we got to this one place where you got to dump your shit, all while the sun baked it all into a perfect souffle of stink. We unloaded some unwanted furniture. As we were leaving, I noticed a dead horse in the bed of a truck. Three men were pushing the dead weight off their vehicle. The horse flopped off the t ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Jacob added it
I just can't get into this book.

I have been reading this book and at times I think that I am starting to get into it, starting to like what it's doing, and then I feel taken out of it, yanked by my collar, no, by the scruff of my neck, no, grabbed by my beard and yanked up out of my chair, out of the book, to somewhere else entirely. Then I start reading it again and I start slipping into the text, into the body of the text, into a phantom body of the author. I look at the titles of the poems an
Holy Jesus.

Read this book, cover to cover, in rapt horror. Then read it again. Topically:

The industrial processing of cow carcasses, piece by piece, stage by stage, for complete consumption.

The formal (in broken, wild manic clipped lines, in borrowed material from John Ashbery and the Merck Veterinary Manual, in long digressions and expletive laden outbursts) and literal violence to traditional and contemporary poetry ("While American poetry dissolved its I the starvational and massacred bodie
This is one of the more disturbing and disgusting books of poetry I've ever read. Still, Reines's verve and Steinian wit are keeping me going.
Update: I find myself resistant to the process part of this book (not a section but a strand). I know the project--put the flesh back on the bones, acknowledge the mess, etc--and Reines even addresses the reader's unwillingness directly--but to address is not to convince, still less to impel. I'm just not going with it. . . I can't help thinking that the
I knew I was going to like this when the first piece of the book included "It is not easy to be honest because it is impossible to be complete."

Here is one of the shorter poems from the book, which I love:


Are you so intelligent your body doesn't have you in it.
Everything could be beautiful maybe.
If it wasn't already a factory.
A milking machine is a machine attached to the valve of a body that is living.
That body has veins and is a little rosy at the teat.
Sucking is the main thing. It is t
Vincent Scarpa
Reines frequently lands on some prolific, breathtaking insight—lines you instantly want to write down, to never forget, to perhaps tattoo someday—but the poems here (and in MERCURY, which I finished, and COUER DE LION, which I abandoned ten pages in and found just godawful) just as often strike me as contrived and extra-affected. Reines is undoubtedly *extremely* intelligent and extremely well-read, and that shows. I'm interested in how she fucks with theoretical concepts by making them interfer ...more
A brutal, ugly, beautiful book. If you're looking for an intellectual edge in your poetry, this is it. You'll be picking pieces out of your teeth for days.
I have been on kind of a poetry bender but find it hard to write about poetry. This is a totally amazing collection that works around a set of bovine themes - the relationship between capitalism and the body, gender, sex, relationships, family, writing. These are not all obviously cattle-related but Reynes does more than make the connections work, she's a materialist, anchors them all in body fluids and tangible humiliations. Her writing is beautiful and painful, hilarious resistant to linear me ...more
I wanted to like this book. And there were a few lines that amazed me. And I generally like the creepy project of exploring female physicality through the lens of cows and their slaughter!

But there was a lot of uses of "signification" "meaning" and other phenomenological terms that made the whole book feel like of lit grad school-y. I think the author was, like, 25 when she wrote it, so it's a pardonable crime! But while I liked the premise, this book was executed in a way that took itself SO se
Mary K
1. Reines is brave and honest because she's willing to admit that being socialized as female is, effectively, being trained to be a corpse.

2. This book starts out politely invitational and theoretical, but something terribly scatological happened about 20 pages in where the lingua bacteria exponentially multiplied. I realized my readership wasn’t shaking the book’s hand, but was actually fisting this orifice of resistance Reines had carved out of our shared pulpy body.

3. This book is shit. Not a
yeah. gonna need to live with this one a while.

though i gotta say, mischievously, that i wish i had written this, if only for the "megan milks' the cow" jokes -- ah, childhood persecution
I have so much to say about this book. It is a meditation on disgust. I will have to read it again this summer.
Sick in the best possible sense of the word.
Ross Brighton

Ariana Reines enacts a poetics of disaster, overflow and obscenity. Her first book, THE COW (Fence, 2006), is “is a voluptuary, a vat of mushy ideals and disgusting feelings” (“Sucking: a Statement of Poetics”). She states that she has often “resented the cleanliness and elegance of tight and perfect writing”, and “felt that writing should be dirtier and more excessive”. Dirt and excess abound in these poems, such as in “Nico Said Excrement Filters Through
Apr 23, 2013 Joe added it
Too late to this party. Oh well. Reines charts how gendered & species-ed giving, receiving, secreting, sawing, sinks, holes, waste, trash, production have been and are becoming in a kind of compost-cud poetics that draws on works from Stein, Baudelaire, Celan, D & G, Cixous. TC doesn’t wear it’s learning on its sleeve, however, as ideas, stances, gender & eco politics, slip in and out of visibility, are located in and rocket away from living breathing, viscous exchanging bodies and f ...more
I really had a difficult reading experience with this book. A professor had recommended it years before, however, I waited until it was assigned to force myself to read it. I loved it because Reines is talented and uses language forcefully and innovatively. I enjoy the philosophy behind the book and I'll defend the poetry inside. I was totally grossed out, however. Though, I think that to write honestly about slaughterhouses it makes sense to also speak about bodily fluids. Because of course, sl ...more
One word to describe this poetry collection would be primal. It is kind of gritty in a way that is accurate. It is as repulsive as it is beautiful, in a messed up kind of way. It is kind of odd. I really enjoyed it.
A look at the meat industry. Quite gory at times.
Barrett White
back up, seriously. nobody destroys language like her.
violent. profane. snarky. this is the most punk rock book of poetry i've ever read.

this is also an awesome thing to read along with the book:
The hipster hype kept me away from this one when it came out, but I dig it and feel dumb for not giving it a chance.

I love the negative reviews I see here. AR knows how to drive away the nutzos.
Mar 21, 2013 A rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Wow. wow. wow. GO GO. I hated loving this poetry so much it hurt. I wanted to break things and laugh. And then put them back together tirelessly with glue that calloused my hands.
Read Coeur de Lion this; Not the Purple Cow of Gelett Burgess days...this will take some processing. I am seeing this "purple cow" from a different angle.
Oct 25, 2010 Gene added it
The Cow by Ariana Reines is good viscous writing ... political and hip without losing the wise insight that art is not for telling but for la la la ...
Cassandra Troyan
this book changed, and continues to change my life. a recent re-read only strengthens the way i feel it pulse through me, always.
Certainly not for everyone (particularly not the faint of heart), but this is a minor (in the deleuzian sense) tour-de-force.
Absolutely hated it. 'Shocking' and vulgar simply for the sake of being so, in my opinion.
Athena Genevieve
I have never been so deeply affected by poetry as I was reading this book.
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Ariana Reines is the author of The Cow (Alberta Prize, FenceBooks: 2006), Coeur de Lion (Mal-O-Mar: 2007; Fence: 2011), and MERCURY (Fence: forthcoming fall 2011), plus the LP/audiobook SAVE THE WORLD starring Lili Taylor (Fence: forthcoming spring 2011).

Volumes of translation include My Heart Laid Bare by Charles Baudelaire, (Mal-O-Mar:2009), The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal: Days and Ni
More about Ariana Reines...
Coeur de Lion Mercury Thursday The Origin Of The World SAVE THE WORLD

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“You have got to goad yourself toward a becoming that is in accordance with what you are innate. You have got to sometimes become the medicine you want to take.” 5 likes
“I have to get to the other side of the animal” 1 likes
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