The urgency: By turns beckoning and snarling, the poems in Beast work the membranes dividing self and other, human and animal, waking and dream, life and afterlife. Post is a master of the self-portrait poem, inhabiting a wide range of identities and dramatic situations to trace and retrace tangled routes of power and belonging.

How I felt reading it: Like I was playing a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek in a cave system full of reflective surfaces.

Where I read it: In the Palm House at the Smith College Botanic Garden.

Lines that destroyed me:

From “Self-Portrait as Beast”:

……………………………I heard everything,
………………do you believe it? The uneasy feeling

…………………………of a stranger by your side. Turn around;
…………………………………..
I am the stranger. Go on, run away now,
………………run away on your dainty little hooves.

From “Self-Portrait in the Body of a Whale”:

…………………………………..…You give the whale a kick
………………I almost didn’t feel and gesture towards the dunes,

………………backing away, disappearing. Is this who you really are?
…………………………This is where I live now like a barnacle,
………………stern and grumpy. If you try to move me, I will cut you.

From “How to Build the Island”:

……………………………You will be formed last
…………………………………..and most crudely. Who chose this face for me?
………………You have no choice. Shut your eyes, let me finish.

Gif that describes this book:
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Pairs well with: Paintings by Frida Kahlo, poetry by Thomas James, Cortázar’s “Axolotl.”

The final word: I’ve read this book a number of times since it was released in 2014, and I find something new to admire each time. This time I’m struck by how Post’s poems seem to vibrate on the page, alive with twig-cracks and rustlings, flashing eyes and sudden bursts of opulent plumage. 

 

Buy it here <3 

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