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Poetry Nature

The Animal in the Room

by (author) Meghan Kemp-Gee

Coach House Books
Initial publish date
May 2023
Nature, Women Authors, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

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Deer with binoculars, wolves with resumes: bioengineered poetry that unsettles truth, fact, and history.

Animals are strange testing grounds for thinking about subjectivity, language, the body — really, anything you might want to write a poem about. Together, these poems are an evolutionary chart or a little bestiary – about deer, wolves, evolution, environmental collapse, and extinction. Each one stands alone as a contained organism, but like real animals, they share some genetic material with each other. Considering PTSD and anxiety disorder as a kind of animal experience, a self-protective mechanism, these poems embody the selves we see reflected in the natural world’s creatures. Deer are a way of putting fear and trauma outside yourself, wolves a way to understand the instincts of predators.

"Oh the pleasure of inhabiting the mind of an animal like Meghan Kemp-Gee! Her poetry is curious, restless, uneasy, and imaginative; it is also highly disciplined, unfolds in precisely measured lines. Watch for brilliant uses of repetition — the slipperiness of meaning, its ever-doubling character, is on full display, played out in deft linguistic twists. A deadpan delivery amplifies the oddity of what’s encountered: arsenic-drunk wildcats, chlorinated orchids, the 'one painful spot of blue' in a deer’s eye. I can’t say strongly enough how grateful I am to have read this collection; don’t miss it." – Sue Sinclair, author of Almost Beauty: New and Selected Poems

About the author

Meghan Kemp-Gee writes poetry, comics, and scripts of all kinds. She has also worked as a writing teacher, screenplay consultant, and ultimate frisbee coach. She received her BA from Amherst College and MA and MFA from Chapman University. She currently lives somewhere between Vancouver and Fredericton, where she is a PhD student at the University of New Brunswick.

Meghan Kemp-Gee's profile page


  • Long-listed, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

Editorial Reviews

"Kemp-Gee is a gifted satirist, whose wandering and wondering eye makes The Animal in the Room a fully unique book." – Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions

"In The Animal in the Room, Meghan Kemp-Gee develops a poetics of the Anthropocene. . . this collection of poetry can be seen as a compendium of reflections on the age of human impact." – Jane Frankish, The British Columbia Review

"From wolves handing out resumés, to quiet observations on the feeding habits of deer ticks, throughout the collection we witness not only Kemp-Gee’s insightful use of animals as a way to explore human behaviour, but also the way our gaze towards animals can be turned inward." – David Ly, Plenitude Magazine
"Throughout The Animal in the Room, there are poems that sparkle with inventiveness and wit, as she composes a bestiary of sentences and syntax." – Rob McLennan, Dusie

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