The poems in James Najarian’s debut collection are by turns tragic and mischievous, always with an exuberant attention to form. Najarian turns his caprine eye to the landscapes and history of Berks Country, Pennsylvania, and to the middle east of his extended Armenian family. These poems examine our bonds to the earth, to animals, to art and to desire.
From “Goat Song”
I start up in my wide suburban bed,
patting the mattress, hoping they are real,
and call the names that seem to be for strippers:
Candy, Ceffie, Bambi, Serenade.
Just as the names come out, I understand
them decades—caprine generations—gone,
leaving me only with a kind surmise:
that somewhere their uncountable-great grandkids
are cramming their mouths with rose and thistle, breaking
out of other pastures, with some other boy.
“In blank verse, free verse, stanzas and syllabics rhymed with delicate quirkiness, the poems of The Goat Songs are sure-footed and nimble.”—A.E. Stallings, author of Olives and judge