The book Pet Poems is more than just pets and animals – it’s also about exploring ideas through adversity and silliness. Hatched up during the first few months of the pandemic, the book accentuates artist Amanda Hoxworth’s bright and colorful watercolor paintings with poet Sean Petrie’s impactful and fun rhythm.
“Amanda already had all this amazing art, and a lot of it was animals and pets and stuff,” Petrie said. “And so I looked at those and I was like, all right, what is going on with this dog here? Like, what’s the poem that it wants to speak? And it just really worked well together.”
The two sent ideas and work back and forth – and during the pandemic, when so much shifted online, they’d have Zoom sessions to talk through the book and its concept.
“I think one time (Hoxworth) said, like, it’s this cool combination that we have where like (she) throws colors or paint on the paper, and I kind of throw words on the paper – sometimes I use a typewriter to type these – and so it’s just like, it works,” Petrie said.
“It’s like the same style, just like in different mediums,” Hoxworth agreed. She said she sees a lot of things differently following a car accident about 5 1/2 years ago that resulted in brain and spine injuries.
“After the accident, I say that I see like statics and neons, and watercolor kind of became this, like, new means of communication for me … because words are hard,” she said. “Words were very difficult after the accident, which was part of why I had to borrow some from Sean.”
Petrie said that when he was writing some of the poems, he asked himself what inspiration he’d want someone to take from them, writing many with a younger audience in mind. A poem that he loves, “Call me Galaxy (please),” was inspired by friends whose children are wanting to change their names or recalibrate who they are versus who their parents want them to be – and a painting of a dog surrounded by stars and galaxies.
Hoxworth said her three golden retrievers were the inspiration for several of the paintings.
“I tend to take the poems, and I’ll read them to the dogs out loud as like bedtime stories. They seem to really enjoy it,” she said. “It’s pet poems, but also not just pets and also not just animals. There’s like some others in there. And I think it’s just like a really fun, quirky thing.”