In Animals with Human Voices you will find worms that dream of god, jellyfish weary of immortality, a powerless Superman, some illogical observations on aliens’, a lightning conductor tired of lightning and the truth about Elvis. In multi award-winning poet Damen O’Brien’s debut collection, his cinematic eye and love of nature deliver poems which are ciphers for the normal concerns of every human: love, life and death and what we leave behind.
“What a magnificent book this is. These are poems of clean, disentangled vision, they are profound responses to a difficult world, exploring climate change, extinction, human behaviour, the limitations of culture and technology, enquiries into the nature of truth and existence—the language is robust, startlingly imaginative. O’Brien has the skill of a seasoned master, yet this is his first volume. I am awestruck by the depth of his thinking, by his content, his ability to make each poem light up singular, necessary truths.”
“In Animals With Human Voices award-winning Queensland poet Damen O’Brien turns his agile, inquisitive gaze to the small to contemplate and interrogate the large. Worms, trilobites, spiders, an ermine, oysters, jellyfish, bees, corellas, chickens, sheep, dogs, toads, and goats are just a few of the insects and animals that appear in the book’s opening pages. In poems that ebb and flow between finely observed detail and abstract ideas, that oscillate between past and future, that shift in tone from whimsical to ironic, the animals and insects provide an entrance to the exploration of faith, meaning, life, history, mortality, impermanence, and extinction, among many other concerns. The result is a fascinating and richly rewarding collection that invites repeated readings. ”