cover of book

Animal Purpose: Poems
by Michelle Y. Burke
Ohio University Press, 2016
eISBN: 978-0-8214-4548-8 | Paper: 978-0-8214-2198-7
Library of Congress Classification PS3602.U75527A36 2016
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

“Burke’s tender and brave poems refuse to turn away from the cruelties of the world, both the kind we endure and the kind we unwittingly inflict—and yet, even as they bear witness, they insist on joy. And tilt towards hope. And pry beauty from unlikely places.” —Lia Purpura

In Animal Purpose, Michelle Y. Burke explores the lives of men and women as they stand poised between the desire to love and the compulsion to harm. In one poem, a woman teaches a farmhand the proper way to slaughter a truckload of chickens. In another, a couple confronts the recent loss of a loved one when a stranger makes an unexpected confession in a crowded restaurant. Set in both rural and urban spaces, these poems challenge received ideas about work, gender, and place. Danger blurs into beauty and back again. Burke scours the hard edges of the world to find “fleeting softness,” which she wishes “into the world like pollen that covers everything.”

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