Familiars - Cover
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80 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

ebook available


  Paperback / 9780807157497 / August 2014
Solitary, graceful, and contemplative, cats have inspired poets from Charles Baudelaire to Margaret Atwood to serve as their chroniclers and celebrants. They have appeared, wrapped in their inscrutability, in verse both sensual and spiritual, weary and whimsical. With Familiars, Fred Chappell proves himself a worthy addition to the fellowship of poets who have sought to immortalize their beloved cats.
Here are cats as personalities, cats as art objects and historical figures, cats as reflections of human temperament. Chappell salutes the literary cats of decades past—George Herriman’s happy-go-lucky Krazy Kat, Don Marquis’s grande dame mehitabel—and the imagined cats who claim as their companions the characters from Chappell’s own past poems. The cats in Familiars are alert and affectionate, equal parts cherished friends and unknowable mysteries.

Fred Chappell is the author of twenty-six books of poetry, fiction, and critical commentary. His most recent collection was Shadow Box. A native of Canton in the mountains of western North Carolina, he taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro from 1964 to 2004 and was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997 to 2002. He and his wife, Susan, live in Greensboro.

Praise for Familiars

“A familiar spirit is a magical being, often in animal form, that aids in witchcraft; Chappell casts cats in such eldritch rites with his usual graceful rhymes.”—Durham Independent

“That last quoted poem gives you an idea of the mastery that Chappell brings to rhyming poetry. The word choice does not seem forced; in fact, it seems inspired by maximum suggestibility rather than sound. . . . This is nearly an impossible task. Others’ faltering attempts give rhyming poetry a bad rep among modern poets.”—Asheville Citizen-Times

“Chappell . . . once again delivers poems that elevate his subject with style and nuance, clever rhymes, sly humor and classical allusions. Chappell celebrates the sublime and stately cats, the midnight marauders and temperamental toms, the ink-stained footprints left across the pages of our lives, the thieves and detectives that haunt our film noir dreams.”—Smoky Mountain News

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