Artists and poets have long sought and found inspiration in the natural world and they way humanity fits into that world. Anne Waldman is no different; her new investigative hybrid poem, Manatee/Humanity, was conceptualized while looking at an old, scarred female manatee in Miami’s aquarium. “It was just an epiphany looking into this creature’s eyes,” she says, “this real connection and almost yearning, and the striking thing is this intelligence that you feel. It sounds a little crazy, but I thought, ‘I’m going to do something in my work that acknowledges this.’ It seemed like a poetic resonance and connection.”

The result is something unlike anything that’s been written before. “It’s a narrative poem, in that I want it to be read continuously from the beginning to the end,” explains Waldman, “but it’s hybrid in the sense that there are prose parts, conversational parts, litany parts, almost odes within the poems. I draw on lore about the manatee. I’m also drawing on a particular Buddhist ritual as a sort of structure, so it’s a very complicated mix. But it’s a narrative in that it’s a kind of meditation on our humanity vis-à-vis endangered species such as the manatee.”

Waldman will read from and sign Manatee/Humanity at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street in Boulder, tonight at 7:30 p.m. Call 303-447-1252 or visit for details.
Tue., Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen

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