Dog Language by Chase Twichell

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Over the past 25 years, Twichell’s reputation and reach has broadened with each new book. She is a poet whose books are anticipated and consistently receive stellar national review attention:

“A major voice in contemporary poetry.”—Publishers Weekly

“A poet with a dazzling and profound imagination.”—Library Journal

“An extraordinary poet whose lyrics plumb great intellectual and emotional depths.”—The Miami Herald

“There is a . . . Zen-like lucidity to [Twichell’s] poetry.”—The Washington Post

Dog Language addresses the Zen question “What is the self?” in the modern age, where individual identity is questioned, medicated, and revised. Chase Twichell’s tightly drawn poems move through the stages of human development and capture the complex emotions and challenges of family and aging.

Like the best of artists, Twichell is able to handle common themes and emotions without ever reducing them to cliché or sentiment. She reminds us of “The Rules” she uses in her poems: “Tell the truth. No decoration. Remember death.” In one of the most poignant sections of Dog Language, she writes of her father’s death and asks what, if anything, survives us:

From Dog Biscuits

After my father’s cremation,
my sisters and I agreed
to bury him privately
when the ground thawed.
One will plant a flowering tree,
one see to the stone and its cutting,
one call the grave-digger and the town clerk.
It’ll be just us, the daughters,
presiding over ashes that could be
any mammal’s, or those of any love
dispersible by wind.

Chase Twichell is the author of six books of poems and a book of translations and is the co-author of the best-selling guidebook The Practice of Poetry. She taught for several years at Princeton University before starting Ausable Press, a publisher dedicated to contemporary literature. She lives with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks, in the Adirondacks.


About Chase Twichell

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Chase Twichell is the author of five books of poetry and the best-selling Practice of Poetry. She is the founding editor of Ausable Press and lives in rural New York, with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks.
Published September 1, 2005 by Copper Canyon Press. 96 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Impressive in its scrutiny, grim in its overtones, Twichell's sixth book of verse assembles incidents and memories from much of the poet's life, starting with children's games and "the first typeface I loved" and ending in a family graveyard.

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