Author Interview
6:00 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Dog Heart: A book of poems by Alison Swan

Alison Swan is a poet and an award winning environmentalist. She's adjunct professor at Western Michigan University.

Not too long ago Swan published her first collection of poetry, Dog Heart. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White sat down with Swan to talk about the new book.

Swan says she finds her inspiration from the wild places of Michigan.

“I think if, I were to describe the feeling that I have, being in the wooded dunes of Saugatuck or on the beach at Lake Michigan, I feel at the same time larger and smaller. I feel my mind and my imagination expand, but I feel myself as an individual in the world, kind of become relatively insignificant.”

Dog Heart is also a poem. It's an homage to her golden retriever Kewee who passed away two years ago. Swan says Kewee was her beloved hiking companion. The day Kewee died Swan held her and then felt her heart stop beating. The poem reflects on that experience.

Dog Heart:

Kewee rarely stopped for the camera and so the whole
of her photographed life is movement stopped

I must hold the other images—Kewee resting, watching
waiting for me to catch up—in my mind. Impossible

sometimes for me, distracted, obsessed, both
The way not to remember, the way to lose things

Snow wasn’t blowing around in the trees just then
Clouds clotted the sky. The near-shore shallows were still

and green.  That Kewee and I were there together to see it
feels like some sort of miracle, that these feet keep

filling with warmth and carrying me along because
the heart that I will never see simply keeps doing its job

(Bear River Review 2010)

Swan says her book is an homage to the land and lakes of Michigan.

Listen to another poem - Old Days.