Afterpastures, where corporeality shatters in flux, body and identity transmogrified so constantly as to seem a form of gesture, a language, a dance. The world of afterpastures is an infinite series of portals, new wombs in which a thing pulled through becomes beast, becomes feed, becomes dirt, and is again and again resurrected. “Where is death?” ponders a speaker. “Where does death enter our lives?” The questions scarcely scratch the surface of the cyclical, multiplicitous half-lives of Hero’s dark forest dwellers, but the words suggest a reflexivity that, where it falls, is haunting and sudden in its humanity. Beneath a jagged surface awash in spermsalt, leafmould and eggclay, afterpastures is, at its swollen heart, an exercise in empathy, deeply and bloodily felt, for animalia in all its gnashing, clawing, living, dying intensity. The cycle’s sibling, a cover photograph depicting Kate James’ knitted object for experiential synchronicity between woman and horse, depicts no one thing in afterpastures, but means all things to it.
Afterpastures was the winning entrant in the 2007 Caketrain Poetry Chapbook Competition.
“afterpastures is original. In art, there is no higher praise. In these poems, the pastoral is made to turn somersaults. Instead of bucolic calm married to mild satire in the irreal world of shepherd and shepherdess, here the scene is the knife in the hand poised to meet the beating heart. The knife is our knife, the hand, our hand. And the animal? It’s our best self—but now in the grip of destruction. These strange, moving, passionate, and crystalline poems form a fable where the animal world, under our mesmerized gaze, becomes the mirror it always was.”
Mary Jo Bang, author of The Eye Like a Strange Balloon