Goat in the Snow

Goat in the Snow

Emily Pettit

Emily Pettit has included a number of “how to" poems in her nimble and dazzling first collection, such as: “How To Make No Noise," and the especially useful “How To Avoid Confronting Most Large Animals." Her kindness is always ahead of us, anticipating the problems we will or won't run into, and we always end up in a different, precise place than the one we started out from, as she reassuringly tells us: “You know/ you know you know. It's all uncertainty/ and your neck. You walk slowly/ in a calm voice." Goat In The Snow is multicolored, ever-changing, a delight to try to clasp.

John Ashbery

What People Are Saying

Matthea Harvey

Goat in the Snow is like a taste test between an etch-a-sketch and a spotlight, a race between a wind-up beetle and an idea. The certainty of Pettit's “I know," and “I think" quickly turns into a quicksand of questions. Perceptive, jumpy and perfectly odd, this book encourages you to “try to maneuver like a spacecraft/ passing sufficiently close to a planet /in order to make some relatively detailed observations / Without landing."

Matthew Zapruder

The poems in Goat in the Snow often ask odd, penetrating questions. “What do you call a field of black telephones ringing?" “Where did you find such a stunning embankment?" “Is this what loving someone is like?" “Do you remember the basement?" “In what direction do you look when someone says something true?" These poems are full of mortal awareness, and are sophisticated without being ornate or “poetic." When the poet says, “Once in modest and murky water, I had a very disturbing conversation with a boat," I don't feel as if she is writing in metaphor. I feel like something real has happened.

Inside the Book

Perfect Bound 72 pp
6" x 9"
Publication Date:
January 2012


Lucy Biederman

Sink Review

From the Book

How to be Responsible


When the respiratory system says,

I don't feel like being a network right now,
you have developed a giant disorder.
You breathe out of order. It doesn't totally suck.
It staggers. It's not like being a hook.
It's more like being a hook ladder.
Like the silence that sometimes accompanies the
unexpected. What are your ears hearing?
I mean move over falling days,
I am attempting to be responsible.
No imitation breathing. It is inadequate.
What to do with what you have heard?
Hammer, anvil, stirrup—the bones
that form a bridge in the ear need to
form a bridge elsewhere in the dark.
Darkness a bet you make again
and again. You are asked to accept
the fantastic. It's so fantastic.
Accept it. Someone says, Emotions
don't have brains
. And someone is right.
It's a different way to dance. Mind
no longer content to move around
the circumference, mind makes a big leap,
becomes a telescope ladder. A significant
vertical exposure. An altered heart.
I forget approximately.

Red Wings Collapsing


What do you call a field of black telephones ringing?

A problem? Sometimes I make ridiculous gestures
with my arms and legs, and call it dancing. So you see
it is not the color of your hats that has guided me here.
If I give you a red bird it means more than if I give
you a story about a blue hat.When I am not a nuance
expressed in echoes, I am quite modest and quite murky.
Once in modest and murky water, I had a very disturbing conversation with a boat. This boat said, I don't want to know
that much about every goddamn whale. This boat blew me away,
as the unexpected often does. I want to know more about normal accidents, owls misplaced in the arctic, breathing in code,

dead fish on the sidewalk, extinction in the meadow, red wings collapsing. I don't want to know what to call a field of black telephones ringing. Have you ever built a giant mess with tiny tools? You are not alone when you make ridiculous gestures

with your arms and legs, and call it dancing. We all are.