Gretchen Primack, poet and animal advocate

by | Feb 26, 2014

Gretchen Primack—an accomplished writer, poet and animal activist, who poured her passion, and compassion, for animals into one of her collections of poetry, Kind—recounts her earliest attraction to poetry, including winning an award for a poem she wrote at age eight (about “the night sky,” she remembers.) kindcover560Despite that precocious, if not auspicious, start, Primack notes she didn’t wrote another poem, at least for others to read, until she was in her 20s. Following that gap, she certainly became keenly interested in poetry, going on to earn an M.F.A. in it, and having her work appear in such prestigious journals as The Paris Review and anthologies including Best New Poets 2006. Overlapping this period, Primack explains, she also became a vegetarian, then vegan and animal advocate. She posits the virtue of presenting information about factory farming and other animal welfare issues through an array of means—books, documentary films, pamphlets, art, poetry, etc.—and agrees that Kind represents a sweeping gesture of animal activism. In creating the poems for Kind, which address our relationships with animals, how we view them, how we treatfranklin_and_i them (and mistreat them), Primack describes how she sought to create something new, while concurring the work also observes the traditions of poetry as a means of protest and agent of change. During this conversation she reads two Kind poems, “Love This” and “Ringling”  (written from the point of view of a circus elephant), and points out why, as a writer and bookseller—she works at an independent bookstore, The Golden Notebook—her books are not available on Amazon, but can be purchased through her website. (

ALSO: We spoke briefly with Betsy Smith, Executive Director of Voices For Children of Tampa Bay, about the organization’s plans to launch the first courthouse dog program in Florida, and a related fundraiser event to be held March 5. (,

COMEDY CORNER: Hannibal Buress’ “Pigeons Get Murked”                  (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Loudon Wainwright’s “Animal Song,” Bob Schneider’s  “40 Dogs (Like Romeo And Juliet),” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Joan Jett’s version of  “I Wanna Be Your Dog”


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