Tom Healy’s Animal Spirits follows his much-praised poetry debut, What the Right Hand Knows (Four Way Books 2009). The book is a collaboration with celebrated artist Duke Riley. Pairing Healy’s intense, diamond-hard poems with Riley’s drawings of animals in the throes of ecstasy, affliction and bestiality,Animal Spirits brings the world of raptorial desire out into the open, blurring, even bruising, the lines that divide us from animal. The poems in this new book range from recollections of life on a farm to the writings of a dying grandmother to the heights of Everest, tracking Healy’s (read our) experience of the precarious, the provisional, and the immaterial terror that daily couples with our thrill and wonder at life on earth. As Richard Howard said of Healy’s earlier collection, there is a “certain sorcery” to Healy’s work that makes it “a pleasure at once sumptuous and cost-effective, precise and loving.” In the tight, but generous economy of these poems, Healy works his eloquent sorcery on the crude but complicated facts of human desire. Animal Spirits conjures a complicated world of emotion in which we are stung by pain even as we are stunned into joy.
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