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Murat Nemet-Nejat reads Animals of Dawn: To Be Or Not To Be

I went to Hoboken two weeks ago to record Murat Nemet-Nejat reading from his new book, Animals of Dawn. It’s a great title, right? One sees things slowly appearing, dark becoming light, moving—Animals—Alive. Murat lives about a twenty minute walk from the PATH in a townhouse with long narrow stairs from floor to floor, full of space, beautiful carpets, a comfortable home. The study is where we filmed, pleasantly full of work and books. I’d told Murat to pick out some poems, but as it turned out, he read the whole book including the essay at the end. It is an interesting listen. A plane might go overhead, a car starts up, but it all fits into Murat’s reading of being and non-being, what isn’t and what is on the page.

I’ve typed out the first five poems below; there are many more, most untitled and kept to a page, though the last poem goes on for several pages and ends on page 68. Every poem one way or the other revolves around Hamlet, the poet’s thoughts, the thoughts of others, and Shakespeare himself speaking through his characters, poems often playful with language like Shakespeare was, irony and oxymoron, fun, cutting words up not into syllables but sections, unexpected—a frog goes plop and disappears in circles on the page. Mixing the concrete with the abstract, each poem is itself but goes on to the next, part of the whole, not stream of consciousness, though it might look like that at first; it’s not a stream so much as a path the poet has made for his thoughts to take. His poems are the way, and a conversation that’s had on the way. Words are made of lines; if they aren’t there the page is empty. It’s always one way or the other and Murat takes us between the two trying to figure out where we are. Words are dark and appear out of the dark when there’s light—Suddenly a horizon, tree top, something moving there under the tree out of darkness about to appear, something we’re going to see. “Existence,” Murat says, “is a very rare event out of the infinities that don’t happen. These line’re about the left out.”

I want to make Hamlet, to dis appear.
The lightning that didn’t strike made me disappear completely.

her arms unknowingly caresses the water
haiku haiku hi-
ku haiku haiku haiku
haiku haiku hi

Plop. Frog

Circles disappearing, in fini te

Until I touched her, my sister gave hope but her corpse was heavy out of water.
Don’t touch the translucence, they turn into wing crumbs

O God I could live in an oyster and count myself belonging to infinite space.

But I have bad dreams. Denmark is a prison.
“your ambition makes it so.”

the chain of numbers: sex
dedicated to Stéphane Mallarmé

1a doe6
2a door..5



le hazard, executed
at each throw
of the die


le hazard, imprisoned
in each throw
of the die


Horatio: I’ll cross it though it blast me. Stay, illusion!
Speak to me…”

Existence is a very rare event,
out of the infinities that don’t happen.
These line’re about the left out.

And their liberation.
The non-existent, you have nothing to lose
but your walls!

I am including one poem below that I like and have scanned; it is near the end of the book, a poem that might be read if the book were picked up and randomly opened.


Animals of Dawn is published by Talisman House. Check them out:


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