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Following The Dog Down
John Liles; Rae Armantrout, pref.



The Omnidawn Poetry Prize

Omnidawn
2017 • 48 pp. 5 1/2 x 7"
Poetry / Poetry - Nature

$11.95 Paperback, 978-1-63243-036-6



“John Liles’s “Following the Dog Down”captures the mysterious essence governing the parasitic relationship between worm and host. Liles quietly reminds us that the consumption of another involves the desperate... [continued in Reviews below]”—Sonja James, The Journal

A science writer and now poet’s lyrical analysis of parasites and the animals they subsist in

This is a study of parasitic intimacy, of unregressable cohabitation – when an animal finds its one true other and survives consuming them. To be the entire world for another, where we are eaten raw by this need, and the constant effort of a companion to keep our harms small, forgivable. This work lays claim to who ‘we’ are, and new ways speak about ‘us’. This is poetry founded in the biological study of parasitic roundworms and the language through which we have come to understand them. There is something here for all of us—a way of knowing that we are not alone—and the lifelong care that we must attempt for each other.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“John Liles’s “Following the Dog Down”captures the mysterious essence governing the parasitic relationship between worm and host. Liles quietly reminds us that the consumption of another involves the desperate implosion of passion, necessity, and existential desire as well as the base force of animal hunger. Liles’s own description of his poignant yet critical celebration of parasitic intrigue, exploitation, and mutual dependency best recommends this terrifying yet remarkably spiritual book: “I write out of a need to reconcile the fact that I am a human in this world.”
—Sonja James,
The Journal

Following the Dog Down situates us in relation’s hidden and quiet violence. This work pains us because it asks human readers to consider their own participation in cycles of nutritive wounding: “while I eat and am eaten/to survive my body longer/in the mouths of others…we’re all hurting.” Unsettled at the edges of my pronoun, I find myself in awe of the knowledge John Liles renders with such clarity and humility: “because I asked for help/and was helpless//here I am harming/you.”” —Brian Teare, judge of the Omnidawn Poetry Chapbook Contest

From the Book:

(touch)

*

the little atom
of someone else’s

arrival

and a honeybee’s

worth of voltage

that you left out

(to ignite the animal’s engines)

utmost long worms

kissing you goodbye



JOHN LILES is a poet, science writer, and living mammal. He has published poems in journals such as Interrupture, Decomp, and elsewhere. Visit www.JohnLiles.com for further work, access to nematode information, or to establish contact.

Click here for author's website.


Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:28:15 -0500