the id is: 5571


The Animal Library

Body: This varied debut reveals a talented, critically-conscious poet. Camlot's first group, "Animal Histories," works out themes of preservation through images of packaging, and coatings, and -- fittingly, for a furrier's son -- skin. Its standout is the long poem "Natural," where the speaker is cast as a taxidermist, conserving his subject with his work, and where the poet challenges proto-critic Matthew Arnold, playfully asking that instead, you see "the object as in itself you really are."

The book carries the theme into the weaker second set alongside his academic interest in the impact of sound recording on poetry. He name-checks Ezra Pound and embodies the ideas in his very own Mauberley, Kit Schubert, whose life is composed entirely of pre-made kits. And in the more accessible "Penny Pleasures," Camlot applies these interests in (re)production, packaging and sale to his art, most magnificently in the "bookstalls overflowing with sleeping pills and lithium," ("Derbyland"), and in "Tiny Sensors," in a courtyard with cobblestones, where: "deep beneath each one is a set of skylark bones./They are sleeping in pathetic postures/for the pleasure of famous dead authors/and my knowledge of their hidden rest/makes me feel less alone." Camlot could use this stanza as an epigraph to the collection. It sums up a first book that succeeds, on the whole, in balancing evocative verse with deep intellectual engagement. (Daniel Perry)

Jason Camlot, 86pgs, DC Books,, $15.95, (2000)

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