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Smart Animal Gorilla

Sep. 26, 2010
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 Koko, who calls herself “Smart Animal Gorilla,” has learned over a thousand words. A CD of her poems sung by a human choir is due for release.

       News Wire

A thousand words, a thousand sonic baubles
Koko knows, more than most of us
or nearly, who are her hairless cousins,
who hardly savor the supple vocables

of the language (from the Latin, lingua,
meaning “tongue”), as she sounds the silent
amplitudes, a flurry of pirouettes
from the soft pads of her hands, her fingers

shaping signs: her by now studied translation
from Modern Ape to Trainer’s English,
while her kin diminish like Manx and Cornish
into the hellbox of extinction .

Koko, inscribe your elegies from the cage
for the lost forest, to the human choir
who’ve assembled in the studio’s glare
to sing the primal notes of your name—

Smart Animal Gorilla,
who writes on air.

from BELATED HEAVENS (c) 2010 by Daniel Tobin. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved

Daniel Tobin is the author of five books of poems, Where the World is Made, Double Life, The Narrows, Second Things, and Belated Heavens.  Among his awards are "The Discovery/The Nation Award," The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He taught for eleven years at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin from 1991-2002. He is currently Interim Dean of the School of the Arts at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.


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