When the British natural philosophers of the 17th century founded modern natural history, they proposed finding a poet to compile a poetic account of everything that existed in nature, very broadly defined. Four hundred years later, the work is ongoing, made modern and rigorous with rules and style-guides, managers and research-poets.
This collection follows a year’s worth of submissions by one such researcher-poet, but the poems are only half the story. The rest lies in the revisions and comments—of both a professional and personal nature—between the poet and the editor back at corporate offices. As the relationship unravels, natural history becomes a tool of the heartbroken and obsessed.
Holly Painter is the author of Excerpts from a Natural History (Titus, 2015), and My Pet Sounds Off: Translating the Beach Boys (Finishing Line, 2020). Her next poetry collection, At last, we listen closely: cryptic crossword poems, will be published in 2022 by Black Spring.
Holly's poetry and fiction have been published in literary journals in North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Raised in Michigan, she now lives with her wife and two children in Vermont, where she teaches at the University of Vermont. Read more at hollypainter.com.
This is a thoroughly original, deeply layered book that makes you feel like an eavesdropper and investigator at the same time as you navigate the text and commentary. Painter is terrific at stretching the boundaries of poetic form and I look forward to her forthcoming chapbook from Finishing Line.
Wonderful! An energetic collection of short poems documenting the world's oddities, from the streets of Hooper, Nebraska, to the post-coital habits of the Katipo. The story arc of a relationship in the margins (literally!) brings everything together and keeps me turning the page.