‘Stinking of me’
Transformations and animal selves in contemporary women’s poetry
in In the company of wolves
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In her poem ‘What Comes After’, Lorna Crozier’s first-person speaker evades the titular question by transforming herself into her ‘own big dog’ – ‘a big sack of sleep / stinking of me.’ This short poem exemplifies a common trope in contemporary poetry: that of transformation from human to animal as evasion of the self-awareness of being human. This chapter focuses on the transformation poems of Liz Berry and Kim Moore – two younger British poets whose first collections have been recently published – whose poems offer a reading of transformation into the non-human as a release from human social expectations, especially around gendered behaviour and romantic relationships. I argue that Berry’s and Moore’s poems may be seen to operate within an ecofeminist discourse, bringing together the human (woman) and the animal, to trouble a sense of human bodies as autonomous, limited and more-than-animal. I show how these poems seek to break down or push through boundaries between species, and different kinds of communication, finding liberation in the rejection of binarism. Their relationship with the animal is complex and multi-faceted, however, as this chapter will demonstrate, and might raise more questions than they are able to answer.

In the company of wolves

Werewolves, wolves and wild children

Editors: Sam George and Bill Hughes

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