“SEX DEPRESSION ANIMALS, Mag Gabbert’s first book, tells two origin stories. One is about Gabbert: her childhood firsts, adolescent middles, and every ingredient in her ‘Recipe for Quiet Ferocity.’ The other is about language, Gabbert’s unruly medium, each word aswarm with connotations and near-synonyms.…Gabbert’s intertwined narratives give nothing precedence, lending equal credence to favorite poets’ best lines and the so-called lower senses—taste, touch, and smell. Her distinctive emotional hues are not primary colors but gradients and swirlings—proud masochism, inappropriate laughter, unplaceable heat.” —Christopher Spaide, Poetry Foundation
“SEX DEPRESSION ANIMALS startles with its immediate power. Smart, open, funny, sad, brilliantly wounded, ferociously kind, and ultimately hopeful, Mag Gabbert announces herself as a new force in American poetry.” —Matthew Zapruder
“Mag Gabbert’s voice is a knockout. These poems transform sexual objectification into powerful, passionate erotic subjectivity, and we need that erotic joy. Dazzling.” —Brenda Shaughnessy
“Gabbert’s poems leap off the page, fueled by nerve, passion, dazzling research, and one grief after another. Need drives her to question what it means to be a human, and a powerful poetic gift keeps spinning its answers into scorching music ‘like so many / sunbursts on the tongue.’ I love this book.” —Timothy Donnelly
“The triumphs of SEX DEPRESSION ANIMALS are in language which renders desire, fury, pain, intimacy, and wonder as revolutionary spaces. Caged or uncaged, the poem is itself an animal, that ‘grief, without context,’ which brims with the wild beauty of defiance, of reconciliation, of agony that escapes, finally, into tenderness.” —Chelsea Dingman
In SEX DEPRESSION ANIMALS, Mag Gabbert redefines the bestiary in fiery, insistent, and resistant terms. These poems recast the traumas of her adolescence while charting new paths toward linguistic and bodily autonomy as an adult. Using dreamlike, shimmering imagery, she pieces together a fractured portrait of femininity—one that electrifies the confessional mode with its formal play and rich curiosity. Gabbert examines the origin of shame, the role of inheritance, and what counts as a myth, asking, “What’s the opposite of a man? / A woman? A wound? The devil’s image?”
Mag Gabbert has received a Discovery Award from 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center and fellowships from the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and Idyllwild Arts. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Paris Review Daily,Pleiades,Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at Southern Methodist University.
Recipe for Quiet Ferocity