Animal Songs

Animal SongsWhy You Want It:

With seventy-one poems ranging from dark to comic in tone, over 50 original illustrations, and a full-color original cover, Animal Songs will set your mind humming with ideas and images and appeal to anyone you gift it to.

"Brilliant! Dan Liberthson’s love of and empathy for animals lights up his poems as brightly as the feathers of a macaw."
—Nancy Etchemendy, author of Cat in Glass, winner of the 2002 American Library Association, Best Book for Young Adults award

"In these poems by Dan Liberthson, the reader is swept up on a journey through the world of animals—the wild, the tame, and the not-so-tame—encountering life, death, mythology, and the author’s philosophy and insight into human relationships. Animal Songs is a charming book, with elegant phrasings and rhythms and lovely illustrations by artist Cassandra Mettling-Davis."
—Alice Rogoff, Editor, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal; and poet, winner of the 2004 Blue Light Press Award

This latest book of poems by Dan Liberthson reflects his love of animals, from ants to elephants. The sensitive writing reveals a deep understanding of animals in themselves and as metaphors for our human experience. Animal Songs captures a range of moods, from the serious, as in Intimations, in which a fantasy animal makes the writer aware of his own mortality, to the amusing, as in Bird Forms, shaped like birds’ flight. Intended for mature and thoughtful adults, this is a book to savor."
—Andrea Stenn Stryer, author of Kami and the Yaks, winner of the 2008 American Library Association Schneider Family Award for young children’s literature

How You Get it: Order directly from the author and get the book signed and dated with any dedication you want. Please enclose this request in the Signed Copy Desired section of your PayPal Transaction.

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Dan Reading from Animal Songs

Part 1 from a reading of the new illustrated book of poetry Animal Songs, read by the author Dan Liberthson at Bird and Beckett Books in SF on April 25. Separate videos show a brief introduction and Parts 2-3, poems excerpted from the reading. At, you can find more of Dan's poetry and buy this book or his others: A Family Album: Living with Schizophrenia and The Pitch is on the Way: Poems About Baseball and Life.


What's In It—Sample Poems and Illustrations:

               Banana Slug

So bright yellow it seemed surreal—
kid’s plastic trick, fat pepper slice.
Immobile, unknowing death or life,
on the damp path’s shoulder it lay
amid twigs, leaf litter, and crumbled soil
Banana Slugsplit between hard sun, soft shade.

And I forgot it. Stepped past think-
ing this and that on the way to what
needed to be done. Until an hour
later I took that path again
and found it six inches
from where it lay then.

It’s alive, I realized, and this time saw
the snub curved snout, sex sack
bulging at the neck, radiating antlers
reaching out, back ridge subtly
s-curved as it moved imperceptibly
to any briefly present being.

It was then I saw the trees growing.
Sensed the muscles in their limbs
bulk and twist as they made themselves
thicker, longer, through my watching
years. When I looked down again,
the slug was gone, and I had no idea
what time it was.



The immense racks of caribou
are living, feeling tissue early on,
covered with fine skin and fuzz,
sensitive to touch as an ear to screaming.
CaribouLater, they set into bone,
tear through the air
like a robust thornbush,
then shed in a single season.

The big bucks carry their racks
proud as any king wears a crown
and feel they must use them
as any king swings mace and sword
to cut pretenders down.
The does, circumspect, await the outcome
and appear not remotely concerned
when the males lock racks and starve.


   Missing Elephants
       for Regina

You are gone now,
Missing ElephantCallie, Lulu, Tinkerbelle,
who filled my eyes full.
But your absence,
even bigger than you,
is more present
than anything in this zoo.

You and your huge hearts
have moved to a paradise
like those we humans manage
near reservoirs, golf courses—
but yours is near tree courses,
grass courses, sky courses.

You are together
and you are free.
We are neither.

Canary        Canary

Orange flame in a cage
but absolutely free
in moments of motion,
He rocks on his swing
to and fro, side to side,
swaying in the unforced
wind of impulse,
smiling as a bird smiles,
in his entire posture,
with all the joy
of any child or dancer,
any live being
burning through its gift
of flesh, swinging up,
down, in life’s cage.


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