ONLINE Poetry Book Club: Familiars by Fred Chappell
Solitary, graceful, and contemplative, cats have inspired poets from Charles Baudelaire to Margaret Atwood to serve as their chroniclers and celebrants. They have appeared, wrapped in their inscrutability, in verse both sensual and spiritual, weary and whimsical. With Familiars, Fred Chappell proves himself a worthy addition to the fellowship of poets who have sought to immortalize their beloved cats.
Here are cats as personalities, cats as art objects and historical figures, cats as reflections of human temperament. Chappell salutes the literary cats of decades past -- George Herriman's happy-go-lucky Krazy Kat, Don Marquis's grande dame mehitabel -- and the imagined cats who claim as their companions the characters from Chappell's own past poems. The cats in Familiars are alert and affectionate, equal parts cherished friends and unknowable mysteries.
Fred Chappell is the author of twenty-six books of poetry, fiction, and critical commentary. His most recent collection was Shadow Box. A native of Canton in the mountains of western North Carolina, he taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro from 1964 to 2004 and was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997 to 2002. He and his wife, Susan, live in Greensboro.