Poetry and Animals: Blurring the Boundaries with the Human, by Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Literature Onno Oerlemans, was published this month by Columbia University Press. The book presents different types of poetry about animals from the Middle Ages to today, classified into several categories.
According to the publisher, Oerlemans “presents a taxonomy of kinds of animal poems, breaking down the categories and binary oppositions at the root of human thinking about animals.
“Through careful readings of dozens of poems that reveal generous and often sympathetic approaches to recognizing and valuing animals’ difference and similarity, Oerlemans demonstrates how the forms and modes of poetry can sensitize us to the moral standing of animals and give us new ways to think through the problems of the human-animal divide.”
In a review, Philip Armstrong, author of What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity, called Poetry and Animals an “important contribution to the scholarship on animals and human-animal relations in literature.”
Tobias Menely of the University of California, Davis, said, “This splendid book makes a convincing case that poetry has much to teach us about both the ‘animal’ as an unstable category that haunts human self-conception and the astonishing diversity of nonhuman life-worlds.”
Oerlemans’ photo of his greyhound Beloki is featured on the book’s cover.