This week, we are excited to have Francesco Marciuliano guest posting on the blog. Francesco is the author of I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats. His new book, I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs goes on sale next Tuesday, July 30th.
Shortly after I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats was published, people started coming up to me and asking when I would write a book of poems from the dog’s point of view. Well, not people actually, but dogs.
In fact, the dogs were quite insistent in their belief that if cats can have their say in verse then dogs should certainly not only have their own poetry anthology but also secure their own literary contract and ISBN number. Otherwise, the dogs feared that cats would continue walking around, checking and rechecking their book’s sale stats on their smartphones in an increasingly neurotic and narcissistic fashion, while canines everywhere would be stuck quietly hunched over their laptops in Starbucks, supposedly working on that screenplay they keep going on and on about with the logline “Friday Night Lights meets Puppy Bowl but without that damn kitten halftime show and hedgehog cheerleaders” but in reality just spending most of their time trying to extract their noses from strangers’ Frappuccino cups.
And so was born I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs. Of course, as any literary scholar with a perhaps too-focused curriculum will tell you, cat poetry and dog poetry are two distinct genres in voice, subject, and propensity for romantic odes about eating out of an upright trash can. Cats are quietly reflectively, almost to the point that if you didn’t pay close enough attention you really wouldn’t know what they were thinking until you found them hanging upside down from your window screen by one claw practically screaming, “I’m living life, Ma! I’m living life!!!” Dogs, however, are far more vocal, far more publicly emphatic in their thoughts, practically wearing their hearts on the sleeve of that poncho you make them wear whenever you walk them in the rain. And that difference shows up in their poetry. So whereas cat verse lets you in on a secret, dog verse is exuberant in sharing why, how, and at what cost they came upon doing that to your kitchen.
But much like I had done with cats, I first tried to capture the thoughts and feelings of dogs through a series of resoundingly unpublished coffee table books that each centered around a particular aspect of the furry fellows and their people, whether it just be my sheer joy at seeing dogs:
To their reaction to such excessive excitement:
To how they might fair as entrepreneurs:
Yet just as I Could Pee on This was inspired by my own two beautiful cats Boris and Natasha, I Could Chew on This was ultimately made possible by all the dogs in my life. First there was “Splash,” a Great Dane with a name that can only come about when you let your five-year-old pick it. Then there was “Snoopy,” a beagle with a name that can only come about when picked by someone who is so fascinated with the comic strip Peanuts that they scarily identify themselves with Charlie Brown, save for a more varied wardrobe and no preadolescent alopecia.
And then there was Panda, a mixed breed adopted from a shelter with a name that could only come about when your little brother tells you “You’re 0-2 in the naming department, so this time I’m naming the pet after a different animal entirely.” Panda was with our family the longest (17 wonderful years) and it is to her incredible love, intelligence, playfulness, and absolute adorable presence that I dedicated the book.
Now, if you look closely at the dedication page photo, you can see that Panda was photographed just as she was licking her nose, having stood patient for so long that it was either going to be a tongue move or one giant yawn. You can also, alas, see me—complete in a Seinfeld-esque Gap shirt, light blue jeans, and a barely visible dangling peace symbol earring—in a picture that could not scream “1991” louder if I were wearing a Spin Doctors t-shirt. But, of course, I will always remember the very day this photo was taken not because of what I was wearing but because of the very best friend I was with.
So let me conclude this post with a big smile at the memory of my own Panda, an exclamation of “DOGGY! DOGGY! DOGGY!” at the thought of all your furry best friends, and a poem that hopefully sums up the loving, lasting bond that can only exist between a dog and their person. Enjoy.
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