The Goat Songs (Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry #25) (Paperback)
University of North Texas Press, 9781574417173, 88pp.
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
The poems in James Najarian’s debut collection are by turns tragic and mischievous, always with an exuberant attention to form. Najarian turns his caprine eye to the landscapes and history of Berks Country, Pennsylvania, and to the middle east of his extended Armenian family. These poems examine our bonds to the earth, to animals, to art and to desire.
From “Goat Song”
I start up in my wide suburban bed,
patting the mattress, hoping they are real,
and call the names that seem to be for strippers:
Candy, Ceffie, Bambi, Serenade.
Just as the names come out, I understand
them decades—caprine generations—gone,
leaving me only with a kind surmise:
that somewhere their uncountable-great grandkids
are cramming their mouths with rose and thistle, breaking
out of other pastures, with some other boy.
“In blank verse, free verse, stanzas and syllabics rhymed with delicate quirkiness, the poems of The Goat Songs are sure-footed and nimble.”—A.E. Stallings, author of Olives and judge
About the Author
Praise For The Goat Songs (Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry #25)…
“In The Goat Songs, James Najarian weaves disparate elements together to keep the past from becoming utterly lost. Whether it is rural Pennsylvania, the touch of an ex-lover, or one’s own mature heart unsure of itself, Najarian illuminates the world with finely chosen details burnished by memory. This is a stunning book that reminds us ‘Here is the ancient scent of fruit and wet; / it is where you come from.’”—C. Dale Young, author of The Halo
“Najarian’s imagery and verbal music are so powerful that I find myself, after putting down the book, haunted by specific unforgettable phrases. He has composed a strong, subtle book rich with ‘the shit-and-lemon cologne’ of our delicious, disappointing life, as both body and spirit know and treasure it.”—Rhina P. Espaillat, 2001 recipient of the Richard Wilbur Award
“Exact and exquisitely forged, the poems in The Goat Songs remind us memory is a bittersweet homecoming. A childhood spent on a farm, queerness, the Armenian diaspora, and familial pain and loss are rendered in language blazing with astute details and richly patterned phrasing. Remembrance, of course, makes visible what’s been lost. In a lesser poet’s hands, memory can become maudlin, static. James Najarian transfigures the past into music that sustains and astonishes.”—Eduardo C. Corral, author of Slow Lightning