Anymals, Poems, Empathy


This study researches the intricate relationships between poems, empathy and anymals (a term chosen to highlight the diversity of nonhuman animals) in an effort to move beyond the traditional binaries of ‘human vs animal’, ‘projection vs empathy’ and ‘text vs world’. This is done by analysing carefully selected ‘zoopoems’, poems in which anymals take part as protagonists, and exploring the poets’ use of tools and techniques to confront traditional binaries. Through these zoopoetical tools, such as metaphors, questions and hesitations, rhythm and pronoun drop, human subjectivity is silenced, allowing the reader to see the anymals in a new perspective – as themselves. The study takes advantage of recent literary and zoopoetical investigations as undertaken by Eileen John, Marco Caracciolo and Kári Driscoll, and finds its roots in the philosophies of Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch. It not only lets the reader become acquainted or reacquainted with poets from the anglophone world, such as Elizabeth Bishop, Judith Beveridge and Les Murray, but also makes the Dutch zoopoetic tradition accessible to a wider audience through translations of zoopoems by Ida Gerhardt, M. Vasalis, Joke van Leeuwen, Frederike Harmsen van Beek, and Judith Herzberg.


Tirza Brüggemann (Hoogblokland, 1975) studied Philosophy and English Language and Culture at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She teaches philosophy at Het Amsterdams Lyceum and works at Radboud University as a teacher of didactics of philosophy.