An interview with alum Jenny Johnson (poetry, ’11) appears at The Rumpus:

The Rumpus: The presence of animals serves an important role in many of the poems from In Full Velvet. They convey a real sense of playful wonder, even vulnerability, at the unexpected reaches of intimacy in the natural world, while also exploring more complicated themes of identity and belonging in a world so often fraught with intolerance. What inspired the use of nature in your work?

Jenny Johnson: I didn’t realize initially that animals were an obsession. But then the speaker in the poem “Tail” started waving her tail! So I started thinking about and attending more consciously to all the ways in which humans are animals. I have found so much joy in playfully resisting phobic assumptions about what kinds of bodies are “natural,” and what kinds of acts are “natural” for any species—human, killer whale, or marmot. While writing these poems, I learned a lot about how queer our environs are from reading biologist Bruce Bagemihl’s Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity.

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