From the brilliantly talented National Poetry Series and James Laughlin Award winner comes a third collection of poems that uses the humble pig as a lens to explore the body, faith, desire, and power.
This imaginative and singular poetry collection interrogates the broadest ideas surrounding the humble pig—farm animal, men/masculinity, police and state violence, desire, queerness, global food systems, religion/Judaism and law—to reimagine various chaotic histories of the body, faith, ecology, desire, hygiene, and power.
Sam Sax draws on autobiography and history to create poems that explore topics ranging from drag queens and Miss Piggy to pig farming and hog lagoons. Collectively, these poems, borne of Sax’s obsession, offer a varied picture of what it means to be a human being. Delivered in a variety of forms, infused with humor, grace, sadness, and anger, Pig is a wholly unique collection from a virtuosic and original poet.
About the Author
Sam Sax is a queer, jewish, writer and educator. They are the author of Madness, winner of The National Poetry Series and Bury It, winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. They’re the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion with poems published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Granta and elsewhere. Sam has received fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, Yaddo, and is currently serving as a Lecturer in the ITALIC program at Stanford University. Their first novel Yr Dead will be published by McSweeney’s in 2024.
"In wry poems that encompass everything from Dante to drag shows, this book emphasizes the affinities between humans and other animals.”—New York Times Book Review
"Vivid, sensuous, and gorgeous."—Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"In this deeply lyrical and experimental tour de force, Sax smashes and inspects every interchangeable lens of the pig, literal and figurative, to unflinchingly examine sexuality, grief, xenotransplantation, and the nature of language itself. Biblical and humorous, provocative and tragic, these poems evoke an absolute and necessary understanding of the very boundaries of our humanity." —Richard Blanco, author of How to Love a Country
"There are few things I love more in writing than the absolute pleasure(s) of multiple considerations -- a writer who holds an object in their hand and turns it over, tenderly, affording an audience a look at their obsession from several angles. Sam Sax takes this to heights that only he is capable of in Pig, dissecting shape, sound, multiple etymologies, histories. These are poems as rich in playfulness as they are in heartbreak. But they shine in their relentless curiosity. grief is an animal is beautiful all on its own, but it is the questioning that follows -- what kind of animal? let's cut to the chase, after all."— Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America
"In Pig, Sam Sax charts a complicated and haunting portrayal of body, home, desire, nation, and beast. Sax is able to weave humor throughout their invention, creating new lyrical and visual terrain for language, for connection, for feeling, and for possibility. This book invites you in and then winds through the labyrinths of the mind, body, and history. Sax's words open and open, creating a space of examination of pig in so many forms. As soon as I started reading the book I could not stop; these are poems that I could build a home in."—Fatimah Asghar, author of If They Come for Us: Poems
“For Jews, pork is terefah, forbidden food—and, in this book, with a surprisingly light touch, Sam Sax makes of the pig a powerful, all purpose symbol...Language is the salve for, or the weapon against, a disordered world.” —NPR