The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence, by Alison Hawthorne DemingLouisiana State University Press, 1997
ISBN 978-0807122303 (paper)

The Monarchs, a sixty-poem sequence, embodies both the strength and fragility of the natural world.  Inspired by the migration of the monarch butterfly, this extraordinary work is an extended meditation on intelligence in nature—human and otherwise—and the often troubled relationship our species has with itself and others.  In seven poems titled “Essays on Intelligence” Deming explicitly contrasts the knowledge of animals, inherent in their genes and neurons, to the complexity of the human nervous system and our fumbling attempts to understand.  A sense of order seems to govern other lives in nature, but humans, having become aware of the tremendous wounds they have inflicted on themselves and other species, doubt any such pattern exists in their own lives. Deming seeks to create harmony out of increasing chaos.  Deeply thought and felt, The Monarchs is an unusual and important work, bound to inspire wonder and awaken consciousness.

Praise for The Monarchs

“This sequence is a tour de force of lyricism, knowledge, and conscience—a major literary achievement and a landmark in late-twentieth century American literature.”

— Scott Slovic

“This is a book of poems deeply thought, deeply felt, and written with the authority of one who possesses the formal resources adequate to the inclusiveness of her themes.”

— Daniel Hoffman


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