The Knowing Animals
Shortlisted for the 2020 New Brunswick Book Award/Fiddlehead Poetry Prize
Short/Longlisted for the 2021 Relit Award for Poetry
Poems that sing, in various notes of female voice, the human being as an embodied, contemplative, feeling animal.
In Skov-Nielsen’s thrumming debut, The Knowing Animals, our consciousness is interconnected with the surrounding trees, bugs, rivers, atmospheres, and cosmos. Here, flowers escape Victorian domestication and ally with girls’ green powers of attraction. Here, the social politeness of motherly domesticity and the raw dangers of adolescent sexual awakening are shot through with blood pulsing under the skin, with oxygen exchanged in gasps of breath. Here, everything tender and petalling is also raw and mothervisceral.
This is a book of entanglements: the poems twist and turn through a plurality of metaphorical associations involving botany, zoology, astronomy, biology, psychology, and mythology to complicate and expand human conceptions of nature. At the same time, they explore themes such as motherhood, pregnancy and birth, sexuality, adolescence, and the rise of technology, all the while shifting through a variety of tones: romantic, mythological, religious, scientific, wistful, and playful.