miami university

Catalogue

Virgil’s Cow

Poems

Frederick Farryl Goodwin

2009. 978-1-4243-3113-0

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Twenty years in the making, Virgil’s Cow is the debut collection by apocalyptic American poet and former hardcore vocalist Frederick Farryl Goodwin, whose poetry has been described as a “strange mix of Grand Guignol and lyricism…a potent brew of fractured pastoral and seedy cityscapes, fragile confessionalism and Shakespearean film noir… The workings of some Spicerian angel… teetering on the brink of some ghastly void” (Signal to Noise Magazine). Improbably fusing the best of what tradition has to offer this “Oxbridge” educated poet with attention to recombinatory energies, Virgil’s Cow presents a luminous voice for today’s brave new linguistic world of “hybridized” possibility.

Reviews & Such

Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle's interview with Frederick Farryl Goodwin posted to the Montevidayo blog on March 27, 2014.

Samuel Amadon reviewed Virgil's Cow for the Boston Review on September 6, 2010.

The Sentinel and Enterprise, hometown newspaper of Frederick Farryl Goodwin, spoke with the author about participating in the Struga Poetry Festival.

John Latta reviewed Virgil’s Cow on July 29, 2009 for his blog, “Isola di Rifuti.

“There is a genuine trance-vibe in Frederick Farryl Goodwin’s voice. As if he’s standing upon a suburban rooftop with a blue ribbon tied to his pinkie holding it in the air, eyes closed, divining the sounds and characters of mytho-loves past and future. His lines are alive, they must be, his breath so desires it. They delight in simple flux with fonts not afraid of sex. Frederick is a beautiful poet, authentic and undone, loving the page only to whisper in your year while clutching noise cassettes to his heart.”

—Thurston Moore, co-founder, Sonic Youth

In “The Nature of the Gothic,” John Ruskin postulates that the contents of “the Gothic heart” include, in part, “a magnificent enthusiasm, which feels as if it never could do enough to reach the fullness of its ideal; an unselfishness of sacrifice, which would rather cast fruitless labor before the altar than stand idle in the market; and, finally, a profound sympathy with the fullness and wealth of the material universe.” Taking Ruskin at his word, the heart behind the poems in Virgil’s Cow, Frederick Farryl Goodwin’s unforgettable debut, is, then, perfectly, passionately, and unabashedly gothic. As adventurous in its lexicon as it is irrepressible with its typography, at times as decorous as “the seven gazelles of the senses,” yet always fully capable of “devastating feral fury,” Goodwin’s work skitters from tantrum to tender meditation; it seeks and finds an ecstasy “fueled by ferocious gasoline.” The book intoxicates with its sonic exuberance. It aspires, storms, confesses, repents; it grows savage, devotional, bawdy, uproarious. It offers an abundance—both of the spirit and of the letter—too rare in poetry today. The cow in Goodwin’s title poem may be “uttering songs of undigestible beauty” and “listening to the muzak / of his own kazoo,” but a truer totem animal for this collection might be the ceremonial bull in Virgil’s fourth georgic, its innards magically erupting a scherzo of honeybees, a swarm of stung song.

—Timothy Donnelly, author of Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit

“These are strikingly fresh, accomplished and colorful poems, and consistently powerful.”

—John Newton, editor of The Selected Poems of Charlotte Mew

About the Author

Frederick Farryl Goodwin was born in 1953 in Framingham, Massachusetts, and matriculated at Brown University at age 27, after an adolescence of blunt trauma. (He became mute at the age of 16, following the suicide of his mother, and spent three years hospitalized at McLean Hospital in Belmont.) Following a string of odd jobs, he became the vocalist for the hardcore band Black Hole, and then moved to the U.K., graduating with an M.A. from Clare College, Cambridge. He has worked in the U.S. and abroad as a theatre director, furniture salesman, debt collector, performance poet, farm hand, house painter, and lumber truck driver. Several of his poems appeared on the CD Compendium Maleficarum III (Incunabulum, 2008), a spoken word/electronic music collaboration with Dan Warburton.