Release Date: June 1, 2010
The Giving of Pears, winner of the 2008 Hudson Prize, is Abayomi Animashaun’s debut poetry collection. Animashaun, a Nigerian emigré, had this to say about the book:
"In writing these poems, I saw the page as a sort of living room, where I could go to have a party. And, of course, everyone was welcome: To drink wine. Join the conga line. Do a shimmy or cha-cha. Kiss in the manner of Zebras. Sumo wrestle guavas. Or even swing from rafters with giraffes. I wasn’t at all surprised when Tomatoes, Fish; Grapes, Goats, Thieves; Mohammed, Rilke, The Unseen; and so many others showed up for the party. Since each guest was allowed to do as he/she pleased. Goats removed their hooves, their hides, and wept like women. Women, in turn, tried on hides, hooves, and stared like goats. Stones imagined themselves naked. Kettles became villages. The Unseen, continued as they always have–conducting their own festivals and singing their own songs..."
"Abayomi Animashaun’s poems hum inside like a good cocktail. When he invokes, ‘Lead us into that pure elegance,’ he is cherishing cities, foods, colors, human histories of passion and hope, with a lush affection and rich attention. These poems are blessings to the spirit. Their vivid, magical powers of witness lift up the world." —Naomi Shihab Nye
Abayomi's world, gods and prophets and dead friends walk ‘in and out of walls.’ Fruits and animals of a lost ancestral village – guava, iguanas and goats, flock on flock – assert their spiritual presence. To say these are merely 'religious' poems would be an understatement…these poems vibrate with living spirits, giving voice and honor to the unseen. Indeed, this is a fresh and dazzling first book" —Marilyn Chin
"Abayomi Animashaun’s The Giving of Pears is a tribute to inner lives: of people, of fruit, of vegetables, of trees. Animashaun’s poems read as parables, using magic and myth, to sustain emotional power as he explores violence, tranquility, and the dead. The effervescent surface of these poems and their rich underpinnings make The Giving of Pears an exciting debut." — Denise Duhamel
"These poems are subtle, wide-ranging, and lovely, recreating a world steeped not only in myth, loss, and the vagaries of memory, but in the daily life of Abayo Animashaun’s native Nigeria. Here, a speaker recounts conversations with Mohammed or Noah. Elsewhere, angels hang up their wings and head to the barbershop for a haircut and a shave. One poem teaches us how to speak to birds, another meditates wittily on folklore, while, in a third, the speaker’s dead friends walk “in and out of walls.” And within a kettle, a whole village boils and thrives. By turns erotic, elegiac, and meditative, these rich poems suggest an ambitious, fiercely original young poet, one whose work I’m sure I’ll return to again and again." —Kevin Prufer