Looking to a wide range of high and low visual media, from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and Animal Planet’s Fatal Attractions to Peter Paul Rubens’s painting of Hercules’s dog discovering Tyrian purple, Stacy Gnall ponders human-animal connections and divisions, exploring those moments when human voices blend with “silent” beasts to exceed the limits of language. In Dogged, animals emerge as the highest aspiration of poetry.
Around the bend it was reckoned
we would never grow old
because there were no words for it.
I placed my arms soft
around the neck of a fawn
and she felt no alarm. Speech
is where we went wrong.
(From “The Wood in Which Things Have No Name”)
“Gnall intertwines with, and submerges her voice in the voices of the animal so thoroughly that it is deliberately and wonderfully difficult to tease one from the other. An eloquent imagination informs every page of Dogged, in which the exploration of otherness is moving, enlarging, and surprising in a way very few books are.”—Lynn Emanuel, author of The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected
"Stacy Gnall realizes and then exercises the only authority upon which we can sanely rely: the authority of tenderness and, more specifically, of tenderness towards all life, all matter, and all moving substance. Not since Marianne Moore has an American poet given voice to the thrum and thrill of the creaturely, to the motives and meanings of creation in its poignant complexity, with such unguarded candor. With Dogged, Gnall shows herself to be an indispensable poet, and we can only be grateful."—Donald Revell, author of White Campion and The English Boat
“Dogged rhymes its way toward our animal being, searching our world for humanity, empathy, and compassion. The experiences of dogs and cats, a swan, a fawn, birds, tigers, bulls, and wolves are intimate, deeply emotional, and compel us toward self-examination. At once dispirited and elegant, resigned and passionate, these poems, animals, and memories are rhyming creatures with ‘symmetry,’ though ours can be only partial, ‘inky half-symmetry.’”—Arda Collins, author of It Is Daylight
“There is so much pleasure in the word-handling in this book that you can almost feel good about feeling so badly about what time will inevitably do to us. Time requires a long view; Gnall reminds us how in stories there are characters ‘introduced / to be killed off immediately,’ and I shudder in the immediacy of recognizing myself in that story. Dogged is beautiful, terrifying, gentle, and brutal, as all the most powerful writing is.”—Dara Wier, author of You Good Thing