The poems in Fabulous Beast explore what it means to be a woman divided between biology, ambition, and desire. By reimagining the traditional forms of fable, fairy tale, and myth, and borrowing a bit from magical realism, Fabulous Beast contends with decisions faced by women who no longer fit neatly in traditional roles and so must construct new ones.
The first section, "The Sow," is a fable told through a sequence of free verse poems. These poems examine motherhood through the experience of a shape-shifting animal. The manuscript's second section is a long poem, "The Woman with the Frog Tongue," written in Spenserian stanzas and organized according to the morphology of the fairy tale as laid out in Vladimir Propp's "Thirty-One Functions" told in ten chapter-poems. At the poem's end, the reader is offered three possible endings with which to resolve the woman's strange and difficult tale. The third section of the chimerical Fabulous Beast is "Minor Gods," a sequence of metrical poems exploring autonomy, sexuality, and fidelity through the lens of mythology.
The entire collection ends with one last conversation between the mother and child from the book's central fairy tale. The child, trying to make sense of her place in the world, listens to her mother speak about her own childhood. In this closing prose poem, she attempts to assure her daughter that our very terrible moments are often short-lived, and what lasts is a renewed sense of presence, of aliveness, in the world. She allows that this anecdote has its limitations, however: "I want you to believe me," she says in the book's final lines. "And yet, I want/ for you those summer nights, too, when you lie awake and imagine/ all the ways you don't."
SARAH KAIN GUTOWSKI is the author of Fabulous Beast, selected as runner-up for the 2018 X.J. Kennedy Prize (Texas Review Press, forthcoming 2019), and Fabulous Beast: The Sow, a chapbook (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015). She has attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Sicily, Western Michigan University's Prague Summer Program, and the Southampton Writers Conference Script Development Lab. She holds an MFA in poetry from New York University and a BA from James Madison University. Her writing has been published in various print and online journals, including The Threepenny Review, So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Gettysburg Review, Verse Daily, and The Southern Review. As a professor of English at Suffolk County Community College, she has co-chaired the annual SCCC Creative Writing Festival for over a decade.