Katie Vatour’s extraordinary debut collection is an eclectic examination of the space where humans and animals meet, where migratory patterns encounter commercial flights, and birds appear as fishermen, security guards, and street performers. There are riffs on the chameleon and lyrebird, odes to buffalo and shark. With poems that are at once intuitive yet idiosyncratic, visceral yet cerebral, and that flourish an unconventional sense of effortless motion, An Unorthodox Guide to Wildlife considers how animals exist in our lives and imaginations: as autonomous beings, as mimics and metaphors of our own lives, and as bellwethers of environmental damage. At times humourous, tragic, or both, these poems tell the story of natural existence in a sometimes unnatural world.
"It’s one thing to view nature through screens – the glass of a fishbowl, cages and pits of a zoo or the controlled risk of packaged safaris. Quite another to immerse oneself in it, be it a walk in the woods, an ocean swim, or in this case, re-examining all of it on paper – a map – an expert’s interpretation of reality. Katie Vautour’s book is much the same – innovative work delivered with unique skill. Another reinterpretation of reality, a re-examination of nature, our world, and with it the imperativeness of attention and care."