The Zoo at Night


The Zoo at Night

Susan Gubernat

The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry Series

114 pages


September 2017


$17.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2017


$17.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2017


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Susan Gubernat’s The Zoo at Night reflects with subtle craft on the dark side of love, death, the family romance, carnality, and lofty aspirations. She thinks of her poems as “night thoughts” resembling nocturnes, in which “a bit of light leaks in.”

Both experimental and classic, Gubernat’s poems combine formal and free verse elements. A (mostly) unrhymed sonnet sequence seeks to recall the world of a pre-digital childhood when physical objects—tactile, mechanical—took on totemic import and magical significance. Other poems echo the Rilkean principle that poetry can be empathetic by looking outward at the “thingness” of the world. 

In these works of love and longing, Gubernat enters through the doors of craft and exits with feeling. 

Author Bio

Susan Gubernat is a professor of English at California State University, East Bay. She is the author of Flesh, winner of the Marianne Moore Poetry Prize, and the chapbook Analog House. An opera librettist, her major work, Korczak’s Orphans, in collaboration with composer Adam Silverman, has been performed in a number of venues. She lives in Oakland, California.


"Rising out of experience—painful, beautiful, disruptive—The Zoo at Night offers an unflinching look at an imperfect world underlain with a conviction to hope."—Lisa Higgs, Kenyon Review

“‘Beauty is always strange,’ says Baudelaire, and in Susan Gubernat’s brilliant The Zoo at Night, we have a grand tour of the many ways that the world, arriving directly under our noses, can remain, everlastingly, embodied and mysterious.”—Mark Svenvold, author of Empire Burlesque and Big Weather

“For those of us who believe in words—their merit as instruments of inquiry, their aptitude for beauty, their power of linking soul to soul—these are difficult times. Open these pages, and find your hope restored. Susan Gubernat’s are poems of meticulous craftsmanship, luminous apprehension, and unfailing heart. I’m grateful beyond measure for this book.”—Linda Gregerson, author of Magnetic North, finalist for the National Book Award

Table of Contents


Wedding Cookies
The Right Hand of Goltzius
I Was in Gym Class When Cronkite Said They’d Shot Him
Sharing a Birthday with Mata Hari
Atlantic City
Smart Enough
The Roosevelt
Christmas Fires
Winter Coats
After the Abortion
Shaggy Parasol

Analog House: A Cabinet of Curiosities
The Singer
Easter Bread
Meat Grinder
Piano Bench
13th Fairy
Feather Duster
Spirit Level
Hats, Purses, Gloves
Deliberate Happiness
Photo on Pony
Underwood in Flames

The Zoo at Night (1)
Aphasia of the Moon
Sick Child
Poster Children
La Sebastiana
Portrait at Fourteen
Ground Time
No Warrior
The Collective
Deathbed Proof
Day Lilies

The Zoo at Night (2)
The Entrance of Beauty
Yellow Sweater
Too Soon
On a Scale Of
My Sister and I Are Having the Same Dream
Reading Loop: The Sibyl at Cumae
Mating Dance
The Buddhas of Bamiyan
Our Road

“Report a Problem with This Poem”
“Beautiful Contrivances” in the Sex Life of Orchids
Fumée d’Ambre Gris
The Fascicles of Emily Dickinson
My Mother in the Eye of the Storm
Blue Tooth
Ground Note
Near Capitol Reef, Utah
Pears in Winter


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