by Elise Paschen


by Elise Paschen


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“The poems in Elise Paschen’s Bestiary explore domestic preoccupations set against the backdrop of the wild-heartedness, real and imagined, of the animal world,” praises the poet Jason Shinder. In this modern-day Bestiary, or “Book of Beasts,” the line between animal and human is thinly-drawn – the daughter of a Celtic king, through love, is transformed from beast to human; lovers take flight as moon and owl; manatees transform, before the explorers’ eyes, into mermaids. This dynamic runs throughout the collection: taking flight, hovering between air and earth, plunging, and then resurfacing from water. The poems create a constant engagement between what tethers us to our daily lives – marriage, motherhood, raising a family, the loss of parents in old age – and the desire for other worlds. Exploring notions of transformation, these poems cross thresholds between animal and human, between death and life.

Award-winning poet, Elise Paschen, creates in her third and most complex poetry collection, work which is elegant and passionate, preternaturally still and reckless all at once. Paschen displays a variety of form and nuance – from ghazals to long-lined free verse poems. Writing out of a distinct Western literary tradition, but tapping into her Native American (Osage) roots, Paschen celebrates the mythic, the unusual, the magical glimpsed in the everyday.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597091312
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Edition description: 1
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 409,845
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Elise Paschen is the author of three poetry collections: Infidelities (Story Line), winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, Houses: Coasts (Sycamore Press, Oxford), and, most recently, Bestiary (Red Hen Press).  She is editor of Poetry Speaks to Children and co-editor of Poetry Speaks Expanded (Sourcebooks) and Poetry in Motion (Norton).Paschen teaches in the Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Table of Contents




Monarch                                                                                  3

Barn Owl and Moon                                                                4

Engagement                                                                              5

Moving In                                                                                 7

Fertility                                                                         9

Trapeze                                                                                    10

Birth                                                                                         11

The Flycatcher’s Fall                                                                12

Prey                                                                                         13

Miss Spider’s Guests                                                                15

Hive                                                                                         16

Sanctuary                                                                                 17

Under Siege                                                                             19


Wi’-gi-e                                                                                   21

Warning Signs                                                                          23

Afterward                                                                                 24

Behind the Swan                                                                       25

Ghost-Echo                                                                              26

Disappearing Act                                                                      27

Solstice in Snow                                                                       28

Pond in Winter                                                             29

Sea-Change                                                                             30

Isthmus                                                                         31

Squibnocket                                                                             32

Chancing Upon Manatees                                                         34

Raccoon on a Branch                                                               36


The Broken Swan                                                                     38                               

Ash                                                                                          40

Eurydice                                                                                   41

Mary of Magdala                                                                      43

Outside the Tomb                                                                     45

Farewell                                                                                   46

Under the Dome                                                                       47

Cicadas                                                                                    49

Crossing                                                                                   51

Cradle-Song                                                                             52

Threshold                                                                                 53

Feast for the Living                                                                   54

First Snow                                                                                55

Magnificent Frigatebird                                                 56

Acknowledgments                                                                    57

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