A debut collection with a fresh approach
Decline of the Animal Kingdom investigates modern constructs of domesticity, freedom, wilderness, and artificiality to paint a portrait of what it means to be human, animal, or both in a society saturated with dog boutiques, trophy hunting, retro taxidermy, and eco-tourism. With brief forays into Algonquin Park and the heart of the 1980s jungle, the book largely draws its energy from the urban landscape, where the animals that interact with the environment have permanent effects on the land and human psyche. A wild deer wanders into the downtown core; the Galapagos and the ethics of conservation invade our Xbox; a mule grows weary of his unrewarding office job and unfulfilling relationships. Exploring the victories and defeats of an urban existence complete with 9-to-5 office angst, the claustrophobia of domestic partnerships in bachelor apartments, and party-and-pick-up culture, Decline of the Animal Kingdom is Laura Clarke’s love letter to the city of Toronto, and to extinct animals and office misfits alike.
Laura Clarke’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including PRISM International, Grain, the National Post, and the Antigonish Review. She is the 2013 winner of the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers from the Writers’ Trust of Canada. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Published: October 2015
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.
“Clarke’s mischievous, fabulist debut collection blurs the lines between the literal and allegorical as she employs a lens of anthropomorphism, an edge of misanthropy, and the slow unravelling of personae into disparate states evoking something between grace and madness. The stark, spare language of her poetry, which utilizes a variety of forms, belies its complexity . . . Clarke’s successful balancing of calculated loathing and euphoria makes for a fierce piece of performance art.” — Publishers Weekly, starred
"Decline of the Animal Kingdom is Laura Clarke's debut but it comes with fangs fully bared, claw's out and a hungry raptors' dark and fearless heart." — Today’s Book of Poetry
“The poems in Clarke’s debut collection appear deceptively simple at first glance, with the pop sheen of YouTube videos and movie reviews, but are in fact nuanced examinations of the relationships between people and animals, domesticity and the wild.” — National Post