Rebecca Farivar’s Correct Animal, released in July from Octopus Books, is not unexpected or aggressive or raw or surprising. It is not a collection of poetry that blew me away. But this isn’t to say that I disliked Correct Animal—in fact, I liked it quite a bit, and I liked it for not being unexpected or aggressive or raw or surprising. I liked Farivar’s methods of quiet, of understatement, the lithe quality of her poems:
A woman needs
Locks and locks
to your head
(from “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”)
Unlike some contemporary poets who seem bent on trying to undo the past by lighting words on fire, by breaking open phrases to show their insides all smeared and visceral, Farivar’s Correct Animal rests its significance on short, rhythmic lines with beautifully curt punches, a kind of dancer’s pacing, a swinging vibe in a world of mosh pits. The solitude that arises across the breadth of Farivar’s collection is something lovely for readers to reap:
Today I remember I am a bag of water
inside a larger bag of water.
Praise be to buoyancy.
To water that wants us weak.
I am pregnant tonight
and only tonight.
Praise be to things that catch.
To force that cleans out my pit.
Today I remember I am a larger bag.
Correct Animal is a wonderful example of poetry that believes in the power of a single word, of single words in accumulation, Farivar churning up thematic potency not by raping and pillaging our senses, not by smashing our faces, but by holding our heads in her hands, by swaying, by calm. There is still rash longing and open wailing in the poems of Correct Animal, but it comes from a place of white-spaced silence, lovely in its reliance on words as weight.