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The San Simeon Zebras

C.J. Sage

ISBN: 978-1-907056-22-2

Page Count: 72

Publication Date: Monday, March 15, 2010

Cover Artwork: Paper Boat, Zebra (Toward Noah's Ark), oil on linen, 2008 by Maryam Amiryani.

Click to play audio CJ Sage reads "A Natural History Told while Termit... play
Click to play audio CJ Sage reads "Landscapes with Elephant Seals and ... play
Click to play audio CJ Sage reads "Sea Canaries" from The San Simeon Z... play

About this Book

With virtuoso craft and a naturalist's accuracy, C. J. Sage reinvents the nature poem for the 21st century with her new volume, The San Simeon Zebras.  Inside this wondrous contemporary bestiary Sage investigates the interactions of animals and humans, using her poems for a complex apprehension of our world.  She counters pathos with whimsy, balances environmental destruction with mammalian ebullience, and sparks the mournful lyric with brilliant images of zebras, elephants, egrets - and umbrellas.  Is it possible to resist playing on this poet's surname?  C.J. Sage works her words with a zesty ease, offering us both curative herb and wise prophecy.

Molly Peacock

In The San Simeon Zebras, CJ Sage distills the cadences of faith and flourish into a gorgeous bestiary. Donkeys, egrets, zebras, snails, skunks-and more-reside in a beautifully rendered world where "the clicks of gate locks croon" and we can see "a thousand rows of spiny safflower heads." Sage blends meditations on animals familiar and strange, and moves between observations of these wilder landscapes and our own backyards to "remind us what we do." A wonderful way to "remember you aren't the only creature singing" is to read these poems.
Margot Schilpp
These poems read like a phantasmagoric zoo-a restless, and relentless, collection of beasts created by sound-play, hallucination, and pleasure. There is a feeling of idée fixe, of obsession, that drives this poet onward to build a linguistic Island of Dr. Moreau where dream and the subconscious are barely contained by the rational impulses of language-to fascinating effect.
Larissa Szporluk

Author Biography

C. J. Sage's poems appear nationally and internationally in publications such as The Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, The Threepenny Review, et cetera.  Previous books are Let's Not Sleep (poems), And We The Creatures (anthology), Field Notes in Contemporary Literature (textbook/anthology), and Odyssea (poems).  After taking her M. F. A. in Creative Writing/Poetry, she taught poetry, writing, and literature for many years.  A native of California, she now edits The National Poetry Review and Press and works as a Realtor in Santa Cruz and surrounding counties. Sage resides in Rio Del Mar, California, a coastal town on the Monterey Bay. 

Read a sample from this book

Sea Canaries

The small white whales in packs of pods

keep their pacts with us, the fated beasts.

They wail their songs and the water wavers,

and we who signed them waive our rights

to have them.  Here is where they belong,

all right, and here is where I leave them:

their pale, bountiful bodies to the sea.

I see a pail of fish and I would rather

feed on palm wood than palm one up

to shed it to those seabirds.  To bate the brink

of bygone beauty, I bring no bait.  A thatch shed

on the shore would keep me closer.  O idol

of the gulls and wing?d seagirls and idle guitar

players, paddle deep and far off from my kind

who peddle our wares like love-me-kindly petals.

Copyright © C.J. Sage 2010

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