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The Cow

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  393 Ratings  ·  46 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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(showing 1-30)
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Nathan Hirstein
Mar 29, 2009 Nathan Hirstein rated it it was amazing
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.
Mary K
Jan 27, 2015 Mary K rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Apr 24, 2011 Jimmy rated it liked it
Shelves: female, poetry, year-2000s
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
Aug 30, 2009 Farren rated it it was amazing
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
May 24, 2008 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
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
Mar 06, 2008 Juliet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Dec 28, 2007 Rusty rated it it was amazing
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.
Vincent Scarpa
Jul 29, 2015 Vincent Scarpa rated it liked it
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
May 15, 2013 Sandy rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-2013
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
Mar 26, 2011 Leanna rated it did not like it
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
mis fit
Oct 17, 2016 mis fit rated it really liked it
This book is seriously amazing. Reines writes these bold, disgusting, but sometimes really hopeful poems-- and that mix is so so good! I feel really excited about life & poetry after reading this, oddly enough-- it's neat to see someone writing about gender, bodies, violence, sex in this way.
Dec 10, 2015 annakatrina rated it really liked it
This book was disgusting, indulgent, technical, scatological, and begging me not to enjoy it, but I loved it.
Dec 24, 2007 M. rated it it was amazing
Recommended to M. by: joshua corey
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
Feb 13, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing
I have so much to say about this book. It is a meditation on disgust. I will have to read it again this summer.
Aug 12, 2008 Zach rated it really liked it
Sick in the best possible sense of the word.
Ross Brighton
Jul 24, 2012 Ross Brighton rated it it was amazing

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
Sep 06, 2016 Dana rated it liked it
Frankly brought this because of a review on and went into it with a firm belief that it would be some gender bending politically enraged poetry about the state of being female. Man was I wrong.
This book is disgusting, repugnant and appalling at best. It's a strange and horrific experience of the undertones of nausea masked by benign everyday powder pink femininity.
You are processed is the message. You are a caracas, mechanically made rare and juicy for mass consumption. You've consu
Emily Dobbs
Apr 03, 2009 Emily Dobbs rated it it was amazing
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
May 03, 2010 Daniel rated it it was amazing
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:
Feb 02, 2014 Arthur rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 06, 2008 Jamison rated it liked it
This book succesfully makes anal penetration, shitting in a hand, and the decomposition of a cow fetus emotionally moving.
May 23, 2008 Randy rated it liked it
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.
Aug 03, 2007 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Certainly not for everyone (particularly not the faint of heart), but this is a minor (in the deleuzian sense) tour-de-force.
Mar 21, 2013 A rated it it was amazing
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.
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 ...
Jul 20, 2015 Lindsey rated it really liked it
An interesting approach to poetry. At times cryptic. I felt both informed and put off while reading.
Cassandra Troyan
Mar 29, 2012 Cassandra Troyan rated it it was amazing
this book changed, and continues to change my life. a recent re-read only strengthens the way i feel it pulse through me, always.
Oct 23, 2011 Matthew rated it it was amazing
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.
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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
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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.” 6 likes
“I have to get to the other side of the animal” 2 likes
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