I Wish I Had a Heart Like Yours, Walt Whitman

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In Return of the Heroes, Walt Whitman refers to the casualties of the American Civil War: 'the dead to me mar not/they fit very well in the landscape under the trees and grass'. In her new poetry collection, Jude Nutter challenges Whitman's statement by exploring her own responses to war and conflict and, in a voice by turns rueful, dolorous, and imagistic, reveals why she cannot agree. Nutter, born in England and raised in Germany, has a visceral sense of history as a constant, violent companion. Drawing on a range of locales and historical moments, such as Rwanda, Sarajevo, Nagasaki, and both world wars, she replays the confrontation of personal history colliding with history as a social, political, and cultural force. In many poems, this confrontation is understood through the shift from childhood innocence to adult awareness. Nutter responds to Whitman from another perspective as well. It was Whitman who wrote that he could live with animals because they are placid, self-contained, and guiltless. As counterpoint, Nutter weaves a series of animal poems - a personal bestiary - throughout the collection that reveals the tragedy and violence also inherent in the lives of animals.