"Nezhukumatathil’s poems contain elegant twists of a very sharp knife. She writes about the natural world and how we live in it, filling each poem, each page with a true sense of wonder." —Roxane Gay
“Cultural strands are woven into the DNA of her strange, lush... poems. Aphorisms...from another dimension.” —The New York Times
“With unparalleled ease, she’s able to weave each intriguing detail into a nuanced, thought-provoking poem that also reads like a startling modern-day fable.” —The Poetry Foundation
“How wonderful to watch a writer who was already among the best young poets get even better!” —Terrance Hayes
With inquisitive flair, Aimee Nezhukumatathil creates a thorough registry of the earth’s wonderful and terrible magic. In her fourth collection of poetry, she studies forms of love as diverse and abundant as the ocean itself. She brings to life a father penguin, a C-section scar, and the Niagara Falls with a powerful force of reverence for life and living things. With an encyclopedic range of subjects and unmatched sincerity, Oceanic speaks to each reader as a cooperative part of the earth, an extraordinary neighborhood to which we all belong.
From “Starfish and Coffee”:
And that’s how you feel after tumbling
like sea stars on the ocean floor over each other.
A night where it doesn’t matter
which are arms or which are legs
or what radiates and how—
only your centers stuck together.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of four collections of poetry. Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the prestigious Eric Hoffer Grand Prize, Nezhukumatathil teaches creative writing and environmental literature in the MFA program at the University of Mississippi.
"Reading Nezhukumatathil's poems is a practice in keenly observing life's details. The poet writes with a romantic sensibility about a world saturated with a deep sense of loss. Recommended for all poetry readers, especially those interested in ecopoetry."—Library Journal
"Sensual and vivid, [Nezhukumatathil's] poems invite us deep into the water, where 'colors humans have / not yet named glow in caves made from black coral and clamshell.' Her images are lush with eroticism, always close to the body and its experience of wonder. She blurs the line between human and animal, casting herself (and her beloved) variously as a scallop, a whale shark, a penguin, a starfish. Such marvelous acts of transformation reshape us as we read."—San Francisco Chronicle
"…from the poetic structures that cultivate dazzling settings to the metaphors that brim with possibility, Oceanic… reawakens my curiosity for a world that still holds so many undiscovered wonders."—The Literary Review
"[Oceanic] is an important work, both for its poetic merits and for its incisive capture of the increasingly precarious nature of life, both human and nonhuman, on this planet."—Ploughshares
"Perfect for readers with a voracious appetite and a burgeoning curiosity."—Lit Hub
"Her poems invoke a sense of connectedness… Nezhukumatathil weaves meditations on parenting and family-making among her lavishly rendered evocations of flora and fauna… Nezhukumatathil’s voice is consistent in its awe."—Publishers Weekly
"Oceanic is a generous, romantic, and ambitious look at the different stages of life, and how we experience the love and wonder that lead us to become more fully realized and compassionate as we grow each decade... [it’s] Nezhukumatathil’s most cohesive collection to date, as she takes her prior preoccupations and dissects them in new ways that invite, as all of her work does, a sense of marvel and astonishment."—Tin House
"I felt renewed wonder at nature’s immensities… yet 'wonder,' a term so often found in responses to Nezhukumatathil’s work, aptly describes her poetry’s unique relationship to the natural world. Expressing awe, fear, and joy are political acts in Oceanic, particularly in a canon of nature writing that so often erases the voices of people of color." —The Rumpus