There's something fresh and fantastic in Aurian Haller's view of the world. In Song of the Taxidermist, he demonstrates both a fascination and unease with the independence of the body — its resistance to the self's colonizing imperative.
Employing a powerful visual and intellectual imagination, a camera and a roving curiosity, he investigates the ways that flesh inhabits the spaces around us. Building upon the stories of famous taxidermied specimens — the celebrated French giraffe, Zarafe, and the Alaskan sled dog, Togo — he explores what it means when the shell of a being becomes iconic in a culture: how place, an idea, or a quality might fill a standing skin.
Like his compatriots Erin Mouré, Roo Borson, and Michael Ondaatje, Aurian Haller pushes beyond the constraints of the short lyric or narrative moment to experiment with larger thematic forms. This stunning new collection, so carefully executed in image and phrasing, so agile in its metaphors, is both astonishing in scope and lush in its imaginative landscape.
About the author
Aurian Haller is an award-winning poet and singer-songwriter. He is the lead singer in the aurian haller band, whose unique blend of folk, rock and jazz is supported by Haller's haunting lyrics. Haller's poetry has appeared in Arc, Descant, The Antigonish Review, and in his acclaimed collection, A Dream of Sulphur. He has won numerous national awards, including a National Magazine Award for poetry and the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize. Haller grew up in the foothills of the Rockies and now lives in Quebec City.
"Haller's poetry effortlessly takes the reader to another place and time, letting them share in the thoughts and actions of his subjects. ... And as with any good poetry, Song of the Taxidermist awards those who read it more than once."
"Reading the title sequence when it first appeared three years ago triggered waves of admiration that still resonate, and this collection renews their intensity. The poems wow with their flawless skins, masterfully assembled skeletons, and intelligent conception and curation, then unsettle as Haller's probings transform the seen and the studied into the unexpected."
"Onto the frozen corpses of sled dogs and giraffes, Haller layers observations and associations in a sort of verbal over-painting. The result: dense works that tap into a vibrant, living art."
"Haller's poetry resonates with beauty's subjectivity, the ephemeral lean of a basement plant toward the light, the ur-dream the artist struggles to disassemble. From Rauschenberg's goat to taxidermists' philosophy, these poems roam through our collective desire to tilt the world into something that shines, something that burnishes the lawn with dewy hoof prints and over-exposure."
"What are poems if not houses? Aurian Haller ponders in Song of the Taxidermist. Certainly his are spaces to dwell in, but further, they "house" evocative installations of found objects chosen to find or re-arrange us. In this living museum, Haller exhibits poems of such inviting mystery. I know I'll visit often."