cover image Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit

Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit

Alison Hawthorne Deming. Milkweed (PGW, dist.), $18 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-1-57131-348-5

Deming’s poetry background is evident in this book of beautifully written essays on animal and human behavior and biology. She discusses the real and mythological, the ordinary and the exotic, the wild and the domesticated, and their interactions with humans. Deming reveals amazing facts about our companions on Earth, from storks that carry their aged parents to the genetic bottleneck of cheetahs that threatens their extinction. Sharing anecdotes from near and far, she weaves in stories of her travel experiences in Tanzania and Punta Chueca, Mexico, as well as animals she’s observed from coast to desert. Deming’s writing is both precise and intricate, allowing her to gracefully transition from natural history to memoir. She describes anthills as “little chemistry kits” and the work of “untrained artists.” She reflects on her role as a poet who works in science, ruminating on language and the complexities of the natural world. Deming closes by considering our role in the environment, hoping that our “pathological culture” will change to greater awareness and, many years hence, a beautiful legacy. This articulate compilation is highly recommended for lovers of words and nature. (Oct.)