Song of the Taxidermist by Aurian Haller

When I was browsing through Goose Lane Editions’ website looking at their spring catalog this book caught my attention for two reasons, first was the catchy title, and the second was the author. I have heard a few songs by the Aurian Haller Band and was quite taken with their unique sound. The poems in Song of the Taxidermist are very interesting and unique. The poems are collected into short sequences, with each poem being able to stand on its own but when brought together with its cohorts, a thing of eclectic beauty is created.

This is rock and roll poetry at its best. The verse is rhythmical and has a noticeable auditory quality to it. The images that the poems evoke vary from classical ideas of beauty to deeply dark and disturbing. The poem “Four Ponies” is highlighted by four pictures of Merry-Go-Round horses in unusual places taken by the author. This is a very haunting section of the book. The sequence “Dwelling” looks at the idea of “home” and what makes a home and is one of the most heartfelt parts of the book. The poems in the title sequences are framed around a taxidermist performing his work on various animals while thematically exploring what is beautiful and the role of the onlooker in making that determination.

This was a great book. This is one of those collections where at first reading you may not understand what exactly a particular poem is getting at but the language and images still fill your imagination. Writing song lyrics, especially Haller’s brand of contemporary folk rock, has become its own form of poetic expression; his lyrics are more than just words to a song. Haller has made the successful transition from songwriter to poet. I think Aurian Haller is a name we are going to be hearing for years to come in both literary and musical circles. Released today (February 11), Song of the Taxidermist is published by Goose Lane Editions and available here.

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