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Molly Bendall

2016 • 72 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry - American / Poetry - Nature / Poetry - Women Authors

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-63243-021-2

“Molly Bendall’s new book, Watchful, sparkles with sagesse, a “knowingness” of animal wisdom. At the same time, there is a current of unknowingness and mystery here that runs counter to... [continued in Reviews below]”—Carol Muske-Dukes, Huffington Post

Illuminations of humanity’s separation and embodiment of animal nature

Witness to the late and sorrowful pact between predator and prey, spectator and species, Molly Bendall’s fifth book beckons the reader into the enigma of animal relation. “What’s left?” she asks. The answer is past remembering, attuned to extinction. Forsaking the names of creatures, Bendall returns like a sleepwalker to a painted habitat of swamps and savannahs, of captivity and display. At once playful and melancholy in its sifting of ritual discretion and shame, Watchful brings every sense, every measure, to bear on the blood mirror of the human.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Molly Bendall’s new book, Watchful, sparkles with sagesse, a “knowingness” of animal wisdom. At the same time, there is a current of unknowingness and mystery here that runs counter to intuitive “animal” knowledge - as the collection’s epigraph has it : “something from which, as a human being (I) shall be forever excluded.”—Carol Muske-Dukes, Huffington Post

“Molly Bendall’s Watchful is a gathering of spirit and song in honor of the animal world. She reminds us that the animals we see also see us. Bendall is one of our most wise and necessary poets, and her work is a portal to the truly spiritual aspect of our human relationship with animals.”—Sonja James, The Journal

“Flinchingly inhabiting a human gaze haunted by extinction, capitalism, carceral impulses, and environmental crisis, Bendall’s spare lyricism interrogates the tense but tender kinship between human animals and their strange and estranged cohabiters of an endangered earth.”—Liz Bowen, Boston Review

“The most striking and original aspect of Watchful is the way Bendall manages, through deft slippages of syntax, pronouns, and agency, to create texts that seem translated from animal as well as from human consciousness, in ways that often blur those realms, suggesting radical otherness and unsettling similarities.”—Ron Slate

“While the root of Bendall’s poetics is found in modernist fragmentation, her strategies of interruption and dislocation of subject, narrative, and syntactic position are part of the contemporary literary conversation. She also owes her style and themes to a feminist poetics fueled by a sense of exclusion from culture and nature...”Karen Kevorkian, Colorado Review

“Over the years Molly Bendall has been writing luminous and illuminating poetry. Bendall’s work is always full of a high-stakes daring, coupled with the joys of sonic intensity. Her exquisite new book, Watchful, takes us further, unveiling both the disquiet and the beauty of our contemporary moment through song. As she boldly writes: ‘I come here to teach my ear to adore, shape myself as orphan.’”—Peter Gizzi, author of In Defense Of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987–2011

From the Book:

Animals and Sovereigns

Tricked with trick snow
and a makeshift gate.

Then overstuffed edges terraced and terraced, cool and redundant.

Song sent out light
behind the hills
though not yours or mine,

not near a crestfall or a gorge.
If there had been a landbridge, that might
explain the deep fur.

They’re myth because
we slept so long. What lulls us besides the North Star?

Now comes the broadcast

and reassurance. Lean back into everydayness
while some just swan by with the last

of their hardened expression.

A few, a frozen few, have permission,
and the narrow moat

gets my attention. Only when afternoon flashes on it, turns it
doubtful, do they sever the rustling perimeters.

Roamers in spite of the trembling. A bit of weed and was can make

them elegant.
It’s like that in a blink,

and threads take hold. The weather ahead socked in
and stilled
to a gray kittenish shape.

Just for a while
to the rock-quiet.

Murder has taken a sabbatical.
They lumber and harp for new ground in their spherical world.

MOLLY BENDALL is the author of four previous collections of poetry, After Estrangement, Dark Summer, Ariadne’s Island, and Under the Quick. She also has co-authored with the poet Gail Wronsky Bling & Fringe from What Books. Her poems and trans- lations have appeared in many anthologies, including American Hybrid and Poems for the Millenium. She has won the Eunice Tietjens Prize from Poetry, The Lynda Hull Award from Denver Quarterly, and two Pushcart Prizes. Currently she teaches at the University of Southern California.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:38:16 -0500