Companion Animal

Winner of the 2016 Norma Farber First Book Award

ISBN: 978-1-933959-19-1
$15.00 • 2015 • 88 pages
Cover art by Thordis Adalsteinsdottir
Litmus Press
Small Press Distribution

A poem in Companion Animal might be offhand, abject, stark, tender, cutting, lonesome, wise & fierce — & might ride doubt up to its feverish surface then reverberate off the edge of an utterance with crystalline clarity while escaping clarity’s costume — might be on the way to or from repairing hubbub — might slip hand of quip into hand of ache (or vice-versa) — & might be or be doing all or several of these things while still being a thing of relative and absolute shapeliness at once. Some of these poems are so big in the spare rooms they make I already consider them permanent company. —Anselm Berrigan

A few years ago, armed with seven books, and guided by a small dog, Magdalena Zurawski decided to start over as a poet. She was in the kind of mood where extravagant poetic language can appear dishonest, so, for the most part, she limited the contents of her poems to what was strictly necessary. But in each poem she did exactly one unnecessary thing — often the unnecessary thing was the appearance of the small dog — and that was how she reinvented poetry. Rarely has the poetic impulse been isolated with such intensity. Rarely has it cohabited so successfully with plain speech. Here are the eagerly anticipated results. Wise, forceful, honest, clean as a whistle yet with a shockingly foul mouth, and very doggy. Sometimes the nastiest parts are also the nicest parts. I find that inspiring. —Aaron Kunin

The ubiquitous beloved dog, lost gone-to-spirit friends still haunting, and a blazing self inside the complex structure that incubates all poetry weave here and are the Companion Animal. I love Zurawski’s wit, street smart attitude and uber chastity for the poem, its essence always questioned and explored. Confessional and skinny shapeshifting combine here in a matrix of insouciant wonder. Be part of it, be wowed and charmed by heartbreak and mammal restlessness. —Anne Waldman

"'What are these poems worth?' A lot, this book suggests, but that is the wrong question. A better one: "What is of value in a poem besides its meaning?" Zurawski, writing in solitude, seems to offer this answer: the transaction between the reader and the poet." —Darcie Dennigan, Boston Review, Dec 19, 2016

"Zurawski is a writer with nothing to say and everything to feel; because the poems are not charged with having to be about anything ('We dreamed of / leaving our heads / without a single / noun in them'), their bareness becomes their subject." —Darcie Dennigan, Boston Review, Dec 7, 2016

"Beautifully continuing what was so engaging about the work of New American poets such as Jack Spicer and Robert Creeley, these poems are hyper-aware of their contradictions, yet completely emotionally vulnerable. They refuse cynicism and pretense, and such a refusal explodes any possibility of intellectual distancing or emotional hiding." — Jennifer Moxley, Poetry Society of America, Norma Farber First Book Award Judge, Apr 26, 2016

"Writers may ask themselves: Are words enough? Zurawski seems to ponder this question throughout her collection. After all, in the poignant elegy '[A Horizon is a Line You Can't Cross],' the speaker accepts: 'What moves / my hand to the page can't make a world / a word.' A poem can't bring a dear friend back to the flesh, nor can it recreate a world in any physical sense, yet we turn to poetry regardless. Zurawski's poems may, at times, question the relevancy of poetry, but they don't diminish its impact and importance." —Dana Johnson, New Pages, Mar 1, 2016