Prose, poetry, chapbook, 20 pages, from Bottlecap Features.
"Funny-ha-ha or funny-strange? Renée Agatep makes space for both in Funny Zoo, her dark, absurdist look at the oddest species of them all. Joining the ranks of Jennifer L. Knox, Gabriel Gudding, and the late Russell Edson, Agatep takes us on a captivating, genre-defying jaunt through the human condition that highlights the truths caged within the wild and whimsical, accomplishing that most cunning of feats along the way: triggering the type of laughter that also pierces the heart."
—Raegen Pietrucha, author of Head of a Gorgon, winner of a 2023 Human Relations Indie Book Award, and An Animal I Can’t Name, winner of the 2015 Two of Cups Press Prize
"Renee Agatep’s Funny Zoo anchors the surreal to a visceral and bristling world, at once as mundane as unread postcards and as startling as knives through a bedsheet. Agatep’s wonderfully evocative poems remind us of the threshold between what is visible and those simmering notes of feeling underneath: a child is disappointed by “a broken-down bear, paused in chipped paint and litter,” an old and prodigal nose protrudes on a mother’s afternoon, another man floats away, raised up by his bootstraps. Each absurdity is an assertion, recognition that we may never reconcile these worlds, that we must breathe instead somewhere in between."
—Jared Beloff, author of Who Will Cradle Your Head (ELJ Editions, 2023) and This is How We Say “I Love You” (Kissing Dynamite Press, Fall 2022
“It turns out, in the surreal, there are still love stories and wilting flowers, and more—balloons lifting you upside down, kids forgotten in coal, decaying pink lions, and penguins mating for life. Walk in surreal's door with the author, you'll be delighted, troubled, and ablaze. Funny Zoo is a treasure.”
—Maud Lavin, author of Push Comes to Shove, Clean New World, and Cut with the Kitchen Knife (a New York Times Notable Book)
Renee Agatep is an American poet and short story writer. She earned her master’s at Northeastern University and studied creative writing in the Syracuse MFA program. Renee is the winner of the 2022 Wolfson Chapbook Prize (Indiana University South Bend). Her debut collection OHIO RADIO is forthcoming from Wolfson Press (2023). Her poems appear in Poetry Ireland Review, CAROUSEL, and elsewhere. Her prompted creative writing journal, The Iceman's Purse: A Prompted Creative Writing Journal to Thoroughly Confuse and Ultimately Defeat Your Inner Critic (2023) was named to Good Housekeeping’s Ultimate Gift Guide. Readers can see more of her work at goingbyrenee.com or say hello on Twitter @goingbyrenee.