In richly detailed poems of wolf girls and feral boys, green children, and polar explorers, mermaids, orphans, and moth collectors, Janet McAdams explores the vexed relationship between human and non-human nature, between body and land. How to understand the voice lost between forest and city, which cries, “I am not wild, I am not human.” Why fear wildness? What lies in the need to tame ourselves and others? These are the questions raised in Feral, the eagerly anticipated second collection by the American Book Award winning author of The Island of Lost Luggage.
At times tender, at times angry, the chorus of displaced voices in Feral maps our fractured relationship with the earth and issues a call for reunion. “What if the world came back?” one voice asks. What if “lake river ocean” called our bodies to remember? In the visionary anti-epic that concludes the book, a people struggle to understand their history as they journey toward their land of origin, toward the earth they are trying to remember. Through finely wrought imagery, a keen musicality, and a perspective that is both compassionate and exacting, this powerful collection explores how our relationship to land determines who we are –as individuals, as cultural beings, and as nations.
‘Perhaps only a poet can or should express the feelings of ‘feral children’ and their caregivers, for no other human relationship so defies traditional ways of thinking. Janet McAdams shows us the minds of these folk with evocative language. Her poetic brush-strokes are broad, for nature and animal life are painted with equal originality, sensitivity, and empathy.’ —Douglas Candland, author of Feral Children and Clever Animals: Reflections on Human Nature
‘Feral is an unusual and mysterious book. It moves through the imaginary territory shadowed by history and myth, but at the same time it gives off the aura of intimacy and the feeling of earnestness. The poems, intelligent and insightful, form a world full of wonder and pain and horror.’ —Ha Jin, National Book Award Winner
‘This is the work of a writer who knows how to cross time in the present, to descend beneath the surface layers and see what lies beneath. The poems are riddles of human being and seem chained together, one to another, in ways that carry a reader back to the source, to origins, to a sensuous love of earth and to compassion.’ —Linda Hogan
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