Cooley conducts a chorus of "clucks & barks & muffled cries" to unconstrained cacophony. Bursting with a remarkable and encompassing cast of spiders and fish, crows and bears, rats, chickens, and cows, the bestiary gives free rein to very human feelings and the way they grow, stunt, and stampede out on the prairie landscape. Amid hushed and howling moments, the natural bends uncanny while the extraordinary roots into the organic under Cooley's careful eye.
Recipient of the 2015 League of Canadian Poets' Life Membership Award and the 2013 Manitoba Writers' Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, Dennis Cooley has been a key figure in Winnipeg's literary community for over 30 years. He has written extensively on Canadian literature, published 20 books of poetry, and edited numerous others. For years a CanLit professor at the University of Manitoba, Dennis Cooley, now retired, lives and writes in Winnipeg.
There are other tongues apart from our mother tongues that influence how we understand language, the sounds breathed by the lungs of beasts in the field and sung from the mouths of beasts on the wing. Dennis Cooley speaks in those tongues, animal and human, rendering them with poems about eight-eyed charlatans and black-beaked hucksters. The Bestiary is a Naturalis Mysteria, an encyclopedia of mysteries discovered in an uncanny land by Pliny of these prairies. It is a meta-Metamorphoses, a translation of myths uncovered in an unreliable library by our postmodern Ovid.
-- Nathan Dueck, A Very Special Episode
The world shines with life, with mystery, animated by animals, and in The Bestiary Cooley gives voice to it all. Compressing coal-black crows to diamond, Cooley crafts jewelled lines.
-- Jonathan Ball, The National Gallery
Filled with owlish wisdom, this bestiary hovers, swoops, and tilt-wings, as the crow flies, over the contours of a prairie and its species unique to Dennis Cooley, his tender observations, his wild surmise.
--Aritha van Herk