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The Bible of Lost Pets is the debut collection of one of America’s celebrated up-and-coming practitioners of the prose poem. Dunham artfully combines vivid, surreal imagery with a fresh, distinctive style to construct strange new parables for our modern times. The themes touched on in these poems are as wide-ranging and surprising as the fantastic cast of characters they employ. Each poem is inimitably portrayed yet somehow manages to render for the reader an insightful glimpse into the bizarre, ironic world they share: our own.
Jamey Dunham’s poetry has appeared in many of the finest journals and magazines of the day and several prominent anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 2005. The assortment of poems that inhabit this collection commingle and conspire to offer up a unique take on postmodern society and the world in which we live. The result is a collection that, as poet Nin Andrews writes, “establishes [Dunham] as one of the accomplished prose poets of the new century.”
‘Reading The Bible of Lost Pets, I remember why I first fell in love with prose poetry. A magical realist, a satirist, an inventor of parables, Jamey Dunham offers a unique lens through which the absurd appears sensible, and vice versa. These are wonderful prose poems; each one is a gem and each is intricately rendered, sublime, and hauntingly surreal. Reminiscent of Russell Edson, Peter Johnson, and Henri Michaux, the poems vie with harsh realities and yet remain light and magical. In this debut collection Dunham clearly establishes himself as one of the accomplished prose poets of the new century.’ —Nin Andrews
‘Reading the first line of a Jamey Dunham prose poem is like standing on your toes peering over a cliff, waiting for an inevitable freefall. But don’t expect Dunham to toss you a lifeline. Although he returns the prose poem to its surrealist roots, his images are never random, his narratives never arbitrary. Russell Edson has said that a good poem should “think well,” and Dunham’s poems do exactly that, expecting us to abandon our rational expectations and trust in a very different kind of logic. It’s a wacky journey, but by the time you’ve completed it, you’ll feel like the narrator in Dunham’s “Apocalypse-Boogie,” who, in spite of imminent disaster, sits on a roof with his wife and a “nameless dog,” “feet dangling from a lounge chair,” feeling like the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.”’ —Peter Johnson
‘The Bible of Lost Pets celebrates a world teeming with life, where anything can happen and does, where man is often a trespasser, and empty space a rarity. In this world “an orphan [has] a flea for a pet” and a paranoid birdwatcher craves reassurance from a nuthatch. Jamey Dunham's “bible” is a zany and moving collaboration by Audobon, Ovid, and Glen Baxter.’ —Maxine Chernoff
‘If Jamey Dunham is a fabulist, then he is the Anti-Aesop – his lemurs, rats, raccoons, and Coyote no wiser and no more likely to learn than their human partners in business, travel, love. What you get when you accumulate enough stories, fable or not, is a mythology, and Jamey Dunham's mythology is particularly American, particularly now.u’ —Brian Clements
‘Jamey Dunham has penned an inventive collection of fun, unsettling prose poems. His protagonists are prairie dogs, pangolins, orphans, sheriffs, meerkats and more. The Bible of Lost Pets delivers us into a cartoony, furiously morphing world where divisions between animal, vegetable and mineral; animate and inanimate; periods of time, and accepted meanings are absolutely fluid. This is a gospel of giddy slippage, employing gentle send ups of classic literary and movie genre tropes, with each crazy yet meditative detail delivered in tones of calm fatalism.’ —Amy Gerstler
‘Is it the Russell Edson ape, or the lasagna roaster left by Charles Simic or maybe James Tate in “when the people were children/it sold them ice cream?” Yea, unto the faithful readers of Jamey Dunham’s The Bible of Lost Pets, “Texas Takes a Holiday” and “The Nunnery” are perfect hilarity, perfect solemnity, they are “blue like the other side of a dream.” And much more – beware the man who marries a squirrel and the mice bandits with little sombreros, you’ll want all your prose poems Dunhamed.’ —Terese Svoboda
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