// RUMORED ANIMALS

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Readers of new poetry have come to expect a certain amount of wonder in the work, a certain receptivity (here and there) to the non-rational, preternatural undercurrents which ordinarily reveal themselves to us with full force only every now and then. For some, poetry might even serve, in part, as a conservancy for that receptivity, a protected place for it to run free beyond the reach of all the paperwork and chatter. Rumored Animals is one such place. By turns ecstatic and grief-stricken, Quinn Latimer’s poems—distinctive, audacious, elemental, and unyielding—render the world with all its strangenesses intact and vitality restored, asserting the legitimacy of another, more primal vision at odds with the agreed-upon, one where “mountains / surround us with their animal / prowl, throw back // their black capes / and are done.” This is a thrilling, defiant, and heartening body of work.

—Timothy Donnelly, author of The Cloud Corporation

In her debut, Latimer draws on sources from contemporary photography and art—Diane Arbus, Francesca Woodman, Donald Judd—to develop a complex engagement with constructions of self and prevailing cultural determinations of the female and feminine. In rich, robust sounds and rhythms, the poet strives to recognize herself within surface and image (“silver mirrors of ice,” “a water pale body miming my own”), attempts to identify with the object of an outside gaze, figured as the looming presence of a brutally defining camera, and a discomfort at the fraught relation between herself as body and represented sign. More often than not, illusory, elusive reflective surfaces prove dangerously isolating (“Blue mirrors / of lakes linger like glittery apprentices…. In their reflection, I stumble…”) while the poet’s consciousness of being seen and fixed by another is spiked with mistrust: “all borders are defined by/ a body and the water lapping against it. / Whose hands hold this picture? / Whose eyes?” Negotiating contradictory urges to conceal and reveal identity, Latimer allows a quiet refusal to come fully into view. This is an impressive debut.

—Publishers Weekly

Rumored Animals, winner of the American Poetry Journal book prize and published by Dream Horse Press in 2012, is the first volume by Quinn Latimer, and it positions her as one of a new generation of poets who belongs to no school and obeys no rules as to what should or should not be done in poetry. Latimer’s verse echoes Donne, Woolf, Ashbery, Graham, Hillman, Glück, and others. We find metaphysics, refusal of self, evisceration of self, confession, exploration of the psychological self’s relationship with the physical world, constructivism, and determinism…. She is a poet who knows that magic can happen when a reader wavers between understanding and misapprehension. In “Idols,” as in other poems in the volume, we cannot know the exact situation being referred to, if there is one at all. But we know that we are reading a poem of loss. The mood is carried in the incantatory language…. If preparation can hold water, if fish can tear through the trees, if a mouth can lie on the ground torn and bruised, if words themselves can fall asleep on a hill—then we are reading a Quinn Latimer poem. Her poems produce images not just in the pictorial sense, but in the Poundian sense of disparate ideas, emotions, and moments brought together into the same space. When such poems are successful, as Latimer’s are, they provide (in Pound’s words) “that sense of sudden liberation; that sense of freedom from time limits and space limits; that sense of sudden growth.”

—The California Journal of Poetics

Quinn Latimer’s voice rings familiar to the ears of the art-engaged public, her contributions to these pages constituting only a fraction of her expanding writing oeuvre. Possessing a strong critical overtone, it is, at bottom, a poetic voice that echoes the physical and mental environments of the subjects and landscapes she describes. Latimer’s first collection of poems appears as a natural progression to her practice as an art critic. In Rumored Animals, poems serve a double purpose: they are the means by which their author constructs images of desires and dreams (“I wake with a thirst for your body. / Stay in bed longer trying to create / it around me…”), while affirming Latimer’s own position among them (“In this water, I am absent, entire.”). The texts manage to express a profoundly analytical responsiveness to the outside world, without ever losing track of their author’s own self. Coming from Latimer, even subjectivity—as long as it is conscious—forms a part of a constructive and critical process of reflection. In April, the author will read from her book at AP News in Zurich. The book launch and reading will be accompanied by an installation by artist Jennifer West, who is also the author of the film still on Rumored Animals‘ cover.

—Kaleidoscope

Don’t be deceived by the title of poet Quinn Latimer’s début collection: Rumored Animals does not fixate on chupacabras, Abominable Snowmen, or the Lizard of Loch Ness. In fact, the faunas populating the poems of this superb and striking book include much more fascinating genera and species. In “Slander,” for instance, Latimer lists a few breeds with biological concision: “sister, lover, daughter, scour.” What beasts are more mysterious than these? The poet’s language is their habitat, the shifting imagery their domain… What Latimer’s own art seeks is a new kind of animal, something ghostly, something she refers to as an “obscure intelligence.” One imagines a spectral wolf inhabiting the bard’s pen, driving the ferocity of a poem such as Rumored Animals’ “Fuel.” Or, perhaps, an eldritch lamb who lends its fleece to sop spilled ink from a quieter lyric, like that of “The Invention.” One gathers that Latimer’s stables are vast, and roaring. The poet’s influences range from European high art to the counterculture of Southern California to the vivisections of a life’s relationships and family, which bleed into a line such as the one from “Slander” quoted above. Like the incandescent scales of the rumored Leviathan, Latimer’s words glitter, whether they’re submerged within a “Bathysphere,” beside “The Eels” in a porcelain bowl, or during an “After-Work Swim at the Thunderbird Motel.”

—The Last Magazine