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The Animals Beyond Us

The Animals Beyond Us

3.6 6
by Michael Hettich

My father dives in and swims off across the bay,
tries to swim all the way to the other side,
swims past slag islands of mucky-drift and mangrove
crowded with birds that don't notice him.
If he makes it to the other shore he will walk home,
barefoot and dripping . . .

Using natural imagery and the disjunctive ease of jazz, Michael Hettich


My father dives in and swims off across the bay,
tries to swim all the way to the other side,
swims past slag islands of mucky-drift and mangrove
crowded with birds that don't notice him.
If he makes it to the other shore he will walk home,
barefoot and dripping . . .

Using natural imagery and the disjunctive ease of jazz, Michael Hettich imagines a way through isolation, longing, and the haunting unexplained loss of his father.

Michael Hettich has published six books of poetry, including the prize-winning Flock and Shadow: New and Selected Poems (New Rivers Press, 2005), Swimmer Dreams (Turning Point, 2004), Behind our Memories (Adastra, 2004), and The Point of Touching (John Le Bow, 2003). Hettich teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade College.

Product Details

New Rivers Press
Publication date:
American Poetry Series
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.20(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Hettich received a Ph.D in literature from the University of Miami, an MA in creative writing/poetry from the University of Denver, and a BA in English from Hobart College.

He has published widely in journals and anthologies and has published six books of poetry, including Like Happines (Anhinga 2010); Flock and Shadow: New and Selected Poems (New Rivers Press, 2005); Swimmer Dreams (Turning Point, 2004); and A Small Boat (University Press of Florida 1990). He has also published six chapbooks, including Many Loves (Yellow Jacket Press 2007); Behind our Memories (Adastra 2004); and The Point of Touching (John Le Bow, 2003).

Michael Hettich teaches English and Creative Writing at Miami Dade College

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The Animals Beyond Us 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
KatieBaker More than 1 year ago
Not exactly for me, but maybe more for you… I have always been attached to nature and animals, and I do believe that that is one main reason why some of the pieces in this poetry program have appealed to me. I actually would not recommend this book to anybody who suffers from Nature Attention Deficiency Disorder (NADD) i.e. technology addicts and indoors people, because they may not understand or relate to a large portion of the material. This reading is for the humble. To describe the style of the works, I would use the words fresh and delightful, imaginative and symbolical, ecocentric and scenic. There are subtle, almost random contrasts of pieces of life and day; there are melancholy tributes to normal situations and playbacks, plump descriptions of relationships between feelings. However much I admire the segue experimentation that Hettich practices, I am not attracted to it. I find it confusing for me to read by myself; I am left uncomfortable and unstable during many readings. I find that I have to dig to find the meaning, therefore I know that I would enjoy the reading more if I were to discuss it with a group of people and find the underlying messages. The handful of passages that I did enjoy reading by myself that I was satisfied with include “Basement,” “The Mother,” “Even Sleeping,” “Habitat,” and “First Love.” Please keep in mind that this review is solely on my opinion and that you may love this reading, even though I did not enjoy it as much as I initially thought that I would.
B_Hill More than 1 year ago
The Animals Beyond us is a beautiful and emotional collection of poetry that takes the simple elements of life and turns them on their head. While I have never read any poetry by Mr. Hettich before, I became an instant fan from the very first poem “Widow.” As a novice poetry lover, I can’t comment of the technicalities of the poetry, but I do feel comfortable saying that I believe there is a bit of personal truth within every poem. For me, poems like “The New Life” and “The Small Birds” were thought provoking and powerful, while poems like “This Time” and “Even Sleeping” seem to change in some way every time I read them. Like any good book of poetry, it is one to keep reading and rediscovering. The interior of the book is well done, which is, I think very important to the enjoyment of the reading. I think that the table of contents is charming, and the consistent serif type is easy to read. You don’t notice the font, which I think, for a book of poetry, is very important. The poems don't fight with one another, and work well together as a collection. Overall, I would highly recommend this book of poetry, especially if you find yourself at a crossroads in life or on a new adventure. The book received an over-all four rating because it still has some room for improvement. Some of the poems are a bit too ambiguous, and I thought that the titles seemed to be distractingly different than the works themselves. However, the fun of reading a book of poetry is to clear the mind, and let it wander along, and I think that this book accomplishes this to a certain degree. I recommend it.
AMP08 More than 1 year ago
This is a book of collected poems written by Michael Hettich. He splits up his book using four different sections; The Honeybees, Even Sleeping, Concrete and Mortar, and House of Light. Standing out from most books of poetry, Hettich using creative and unique ways to describe nature scenes and different animals. I thought that his poems were very easy to read and follow, which was a big plus. I am fan of poetry but even if someone isn’t, I would highly recommend this book. All of the poems were simple enough to sit down and read in one sitting if someone wanted. Also I found that most of the poems were pretty relatable to every day life. I found many of his poems to be about childhood and I would almost catch myself getting lost in the poems, bringing me back to growing up. GIVE THIS BOOK A CHANCE To be honest, when I first read the title I thought the poems would be really dark and cheesy comparisons to wild animals. What I found out is that these poems are really down to Earth and calm, in my eyes. I could relate to some of the poems and they were a pretty easy read. RANKING I would definitely rank this book as a 4, if not a 5. The only thing I would recommend is that maybe the poems could have been a little more ‘open ended’ so the reader didn’t (almost) always know what he was exactly feeling. Almost to keep the reader guessing. But that is just my opinion.
JRUrness More than 1 year ago
This book isn’t what I expected; its earthy and real. When I looked at the cover and the title, The Animal’s Beyond Us, I expect a tumble of description put into poetic stanza that would rock me to sleep. This was anything but, it made me think; it made me feel. A different emotion flowed in each poem and sung louder in each line. There were some emotions that always hung in the undertone though: loss and letting go. That was not what compelled me to turn every page, or force me to devour the book though; it was the idea of silence. Michael Hettich made me want to understand what he was getting at, what he was going though. In reading this book I was not reading a collection of his poems but a mirror of himself. I understand now. So yes, I enjoyed the book, emotional things have always touched me the deepest. I will recommend it to others as well.
MJHeying More than 1 year ago
Michael Hettich's collection of poems in "The Animals Beyond Us" captures themes that any reader can connect to. With its dark imagery and references to a physical animal in every poem, the complete work makes for an absorbing read. Although each poem has a depressing theme to it, Hettich works it in the way that Edgar Allan Poe does in his pieces by capturing the reader's attention, leaving them wanting more. A reoccurring reference in this collection is that of birds. It is no wonder then that Hettich decided to add two quotes as an epigraph that refer to birds. In reference to the whole collection, both of these quotes work really well because one of them touches on the "darkness of the world" while the other reflects the first and allows the reader to look at singing and songbirds in a whole new light. Hettich goes on to creatively break his poems up with headers which include "The Honeybees", "Even Sleeping", "Concrete and Mortar", and "House of Light". Each poem works fairly well with the header that they're under which is proven easiest in "House of Light". Its poems have titles such as "After the Rains" and "A Vase of Yellow Flowers", both of which have a seemingly more uplifting theme that allows the reader to start to come out of the darkness that the rest of the poems might slip them into. Although the poems are interesting enough to stand on their own without much of a design aspect to them, the design of this book cannot go unnoticed. The serif font that the designer chose is simple, but the thin stroke with large openings in letters such as "o" and "d", it makes the words hard to read. It isn't a major flaw, just something that could have been avoided. Finally, the cover. The simple design is elegant yet stimulating as the branches of the tree seem to float off the edge of the cover. Interestingly enough, the tree is upside down, though, which plays off of the dark and backwards themes in the poems, but it also plays off of the theme of birds in many of the poems who would call such a tree home. Despite the font within and the dark themes that might turn some readers off, "The Animals Beyond Us" is a book worth reading and becoming lost in.
TysonHill More than 1 year ago
The combination of the dark cover art with the tone of his poems makes Michael Hettich's "The Animals beyond Us" an intriguing read. Hettich does a good job of combining animalistic imagery with dark messages and descriptions of human behavior. These moments remain etched in the mind of the readers throughout the book. The design of the book isn't typical. The font the designer chose stands out, but is a very neat and tidy concept. It did, however, make it difficult to read the italicized portions of the text. They also decided to include both the title and the author's name next to the page numbers on the bottom, which seemed a little excessive. The poems themselves take everyday moments and convert them into messages that delve deep into the psyche of the narrator's past. Each has a message of despair or hardship for the reader. Although the poem's weren't too difficult to read, the author seemed to use some superfluous words to create his images. In his poem, "The Votive Candle," Hettich writes: "the forest comes alive, more vividly, often, than it has done for years." The use of the word "often" takes away from the overall flow of the poem, and makes it more difficult to read. This is a problem consistent with the work of this book. It was difficult to connect each poem together throughout the collection, symbolically. Although the natural and animalistic imagery runs throughout, the messages and metaphors of the poem don't intertwine effectively and the overall message of the book is easily lost. Still, the book is a simple and quick read.