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About My Feelings

A musing by Heather Christle. Some of her poems may be found here. –TM

People like animals. Younger American Poets like to write about “the animals.” (If you are under 65, you are a Younger American Poet. Congrats!) In Joe Wenderoth’s “Morning Fiction,” excerpted below, the animals are kind of mean:

“Good morning, animals.”
“It’s not a good morning,” the animals say.
“Please go away.”

That’s when the talking-singing, the whole talking
singing ball of yarn, begins to unravel.
We start to dread the fact
that a little quiet is all it can really ask.
It gets quiet, and none of us mean it.
When none of us mean it, it’s not a good morning.
The animals are right.
We’ve never seen them.
“Maybe we should look around for you a bit.”
“Maybe you should put your eyes out,” the animals say.

In Sabrina Orah Mark’s prose poem, “The Experiments Lasted Through the Winter,” from her book, The Babies, the animals are put in danger:

…The thing, we were afraid, had lied to us. What is this, we asked, a father? We dug a hole. No, we agreed, the thing was not a father. A father is when you raise the cloth to his lips. What is this, we asked, we leaned against each other, what is this, a war? No, we agreed, the thing was not a war. A war is when you cannot hear the animals.

It was Sabrina Orah Mark who pointed me toward Oni Buchanan’s What Animal. You can read an interview with Buchanan (in which she discusses animal narrators) here. I get very excited when she says, “I can also speak like a snail and like a turtle and I have spoken like a newt, but infrequently.”

And Tao Lin, who I mentioned in my last post, contains multitudes of animals, including a giant moose who buys a handbag in Chinatown. Elizabeth Bishop also famously wrote about a moose. (Wouldn’t it be nice to say something famously in the present tense? “My legs are itchy,” she said famously. A good experiment would be to pretend you were saying everything famously for a day.) Of course, EB is not a YAP. Anymore.

I feel like this:

“The animals” are animals in the same way that the giant piece of cardboard a kindergartener paints brown and green for the school play is a tree. And that is not a bad thing. The animals are useful; they let the YAPs speak out into an imaginary space with a definite imaginary partner in conversation, or give them an imaginary identity from which to speak. They give the reader a short ride back into childhood, or into the materials of childhood recast for adult purposes: a poetic Wii.

You can see visual equivalents in the work of Marcel Dzama and Jennie Smith. You can see musical equivalents in the animal costumes of bands like the Moldy Peaches and the Flaming Lips; or the lyrics of Joanna Newsom; or the very names of Wolf Parade, Wolf Eyes, the Mountain Goats, Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear, Bear vs. Shark, Panthers, Japanther, Antelope, Deerhunter, Deerhoof and the Animal Collective. (Probably you can think of others.)

I would like to tell you that a couple days ago I went to a little zoo and saw a small human animal feeding a pygmy goat. I would also like to tell you that a week or so ago there was a bear on our shed. About these things I feel pretty good.

About the Program

The Kenyon Review Associates Program provides Kenyon students with valuable experience in literary editing, publishing, and programming. KR Associates work closely with Kenyon Review staff, gaining valuable experience in a number of editing, publishing, and programming areas including manuscript evaluation, publicity and marketing, copy editing, developing web site and social media content, outreach programming, event planning and promotion, and other creative and editorial projects

KR Associates attend regular seminars conducted by Kenyon Review editorial staff, visiting readers, and publishing industry professionals. These seminars cover a wide range of topics including editorial philosophy, evaluation of submissions, print and electronic production, marketing, and design.

KR Associates enjoy also enjoy exclusive access to visiting writers and speakers, free issues of The Kenyon Review, and valuable work experience and employment references.

This program is made possible through an initiative of the Kenyon Review, part of the mission of which is to contribute to the enrichment of the academic, cultural, and artistic life of the Kenyon College community.

Requirements and Expectations

  • Submission Evaluation: All Associates are required to read and evaluate eight Kenyon Review submissions per week. Associates who are not able to complete their weekly submission assignments for more than two weeks in a row may not be allowed to continue in the program.
  • Trainings and Seminars: In-person attendance is mandatory at all trainings and seminars. We plan on scheduling six to eight seminars per semester, and most will take place on Thursdays during common hour.
  • Literary Engagement: Associates are expected to participate in literary events on campus and throughout the local community.

Application Details

The application deadline for the 2023-24 program has passed. Applications for the 2024-25 program will open in the fall of 2024. Please check back then for more details.

Questions? Please contact Tory Weber for more information.