Winner, Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry
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.
“James Najarian is a namer of things, whether the flocks of yesteryear, or the furnishings of the physical world. In blank verse, free verse, stanzas and syllabics rhymed with delicate quirkiness, the poems of The Goat Songs are sure-footed and nimble. These poems may be beautiful, but beauty isn't what they are after exactly, rather something equally potent and subversive: pleasure.”—A.E. Stallings, author of Olives and judge
“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.’”—C. Dale Young, author of The Halo
“Najarian's imagery and verbal music are so powerful that I find myself 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. James Najarian transfigures the past into music that sustains and astonishes.”—Eduardo C. Corral, author of Slow Lightning
James Najarian grew up on a goat farm near Kempton, Pennsylvania. He received his BA and PhD from Yale University and published a critical book on Keats in 2003. He teaches at Boston College, where he edits the journal Religion and the Arts. His poem “The Dark Ages” received the Frost Farm Poetry Prize in Metrical Poetry.
About the Author
JAMES NAJARIAN grew up on a goat farm near Kutztown, Pennsylvania. He received his BA and PhD from Yale University and teaches nineteenth-century literature at Boston College, where he edits the scholarly journal Religion and the Arts. His poem “The Dark Ages” received the Frost Farm Poetry Prize in Metrical Poetry.