Attempted avoiding abysses, assortedabrasions and apertures, abscesses.At adolescence, acted absurd: acid,amphetamines. Amorously achingafter an arguably arbitrary Abigail,authored an awful aubade.Am always arabesquing after Abigails.Am always afraid: an affliction?Animals augur an avalanche. Animalsapprehend abattoirs. Am, as an animal,anxious. Appendages always aflutter,am an amazing accident: alive.Attired as an apprentice aerialist,addressed acrophobic audiences.Aspiring, as an adult, after applause,attracted an angelic acolyte.After an affirming affair, an abortion.After an asinine affair, Avowed Agnosticapproached, alone, an abbey’s altarpiece,asking Alleged Almighty about afterlife.Ambled, adagio, around an arena.Admired an ancient aqueduct. Ate aspic.Adored and ate assorted animals.Ascended an alp. Affected an accent.Acquired an accountant, an abacus, assets.Attempted atonal arpeggios.
“Autobiography” from Creature (c) 2023 by Michael Dumanis.
Appears with permission of Four Way Books.
All rights reserved.
Michael Dumanis, poem to accompany Poetry Daily essay
(poem appears in Creature (Four Way Books, 2023); originally published in The Believer)
Michael Dumanis was born in the former Soviet Union and lived there until his parents were granted political asylum in the United States. He is the author of two poetry collections, Creature (Four Way Books, 2023) and My Soviet Union, winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry. Additionally, he coedited the anthology Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New
Century. The recipient of the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, he lives in Vermont, where he teaches at Bennington College and serves as editor of Bennington Review.
'Creature is a brilliant book, a gift that fills needs we didn’t know we needed. At the crux of it is a voice that refuses to be nailed down to some single identity, a craft so capacious it evades even as it seduces. What Michael Dumanis manages in these poems is the variety and diversity inherent in any life when the one who’s living it is willing to pay attention: “I am solid gold, I say, and I am capable/of loving you until the final asteroid/hides Omaha under an ocean of ash,/but you’re unavailable.” This book is a word-drunk movement. I am so envious that I didn’t write it."—Jericho Brown
"Michael Dumanis’s Creature is the poetry book this year you have to read. Steeped in issues of morality, mortality, plasticity, and existence itself, Dumanis paints a picture of life that is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is terrifying. Just as Dumanis writes, “There’s more beyond / but not too much,” the book asks us over and over again what it means to be a living thing and the answer we are given is not simple or easy to swallow. Each poem’s landscape of perfectly chosen and placed language is a land to wish upon. For just as “Everything will be taken away before it’s handed back,” Creature tells us there is hope after loss, even if it is fractured. There is hope in this book, too, as it speaks: 'I forget my life, but then I remember my life.' After all, there is poetry still to write which replaces the silence of death: 'When I grow up, I do not want to be a headstone./ When I grow up, I want to be a book.' There’s no doubt that Creature contains the real poetry we have been waiting for for a very long time. Read it and feel your spirit cleansed with the truth of our present and our future—'we, who are about/ to steer our dinghy/ into the open sea.'"—Dorothea Lasky