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Glossary of Chickens (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets)


Glossary of Chickens (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

With skillful rhetoric and tempered lyricism, the poems in A Glossary of Chickens explore, in part, the struggle to understand the world through the symbolism of words. Like the hens of the title poem, Gary J. Whitehead's lyrics root around in the earth searching for sustenance, cluck rather than crow, and possess a humble majesty.

Confronting subjects such as moral depravity, nature's indifference, aging, illness, death, the tenacity of spirit, and the possibility of joy, the poems in this collection are accessible and controlled, musical and meditative, imagistic and richly figurative. They are informed by history, literature, and a deep interest in the natural world, touching on a wide range of subjects, from the Civil War and whale ships, to animals and insects. Two poems present biblical narratives, the story of Lot's wife and an imagining of Noah in his old age. Other poems nod to favorite authors: one poem is in the voice of the character Babo, from Herman Melville's Benito Cereno, while another is a kind of prequel to Emily Dickinson's "She rose to His Requirement."

As inventive as they are observant, these memorable lyrics strive for revelation and provide their own revelations.


"Quietly witty, observant, and frequently sad, this third outing from Whitehead sets itself apart through understatement." -Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

Gary J. Whitehead is the author of two previous collections of poetry. His work has appeared in the New Yorker and has been featured on Garrison Keillors public radio program the Writers Almanac. Whitehead teaches English at Tenafly High School in New Jersey and lives in New Yorks Hudson Valley.

Table of Contents

Oyster 1


The Wimp 5

Lot's Wife7

Spice Rack 9

Sourdough 10

Luminescent Jellyfish 11

Somebody Throws It In 13

The Slip 15

Trap Door 16

Owl Pellet I Show My Students 19

One-Legged Pigeon 20


A Glossary of Chickens 23

Sleeping with My Dog 24

Warren 25

Pastoral 26

Stupid 33

Tied Dog 35

Letter Written in Pokeberry Ink 36

Homeschooled 37

Babo Speaks from Lima 38


Slaveship 43

Melville Passing 45

First Prospective 46

The Coop 47

Death Watches 49

In the Butterfly Conservatory 50

Drosophila melanogaster 51

Uncle 53

Ararat 54

Some Notes 55

Acknowledgments 57

Product Details

Whitehead, Gary J
Princeton University Press
Whitehead, Gary J.
Single Author / American
Poetry-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets
Publication Date:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » Featured Titles

Glossary of Chickens (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 72 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691157467 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Quietly witty, observant, and frequently sad, this third outing from Whitehead sets itself apart through understatement." -
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