Poems for a Cartoon Mouse

by Andrew Burt


About this book

While the poems in this collection are inspired by the story of Fievel Mousekewitz, the cartoon mouse of the author’s childhood, they are gut-wrenching in their examination of the American dream. Fievel’s family history—and the author’s—is one of a Jewish family immigrating from the Old World to the New and eventually being pulled across the plains: “When migrant boys looked west in leather hats, their slang pierced with Polish accents.” Even though “tomorrow is made of rocks and time; is the draft that sweeps sleepily through the fallen branches,” it is also where immigrants “watch their dreams decompose on plywood” as they search “for whatever it is that makes men free.”

Using the story of Fievel, Burt plays masterfully with the ambivalence of hope and cynicism, as if he had traversed the ocean and the continent westwards himself: “I am the hope that has not been forgotten, because I declare myself welcome here, as if there is nothing in history I will not make mine.”

Advance Praise

“Andrew Burt’s poetry magnifies the vanishingly small line between danger and safety. This collection asks whether order is an illusion that veils chaos, or vice-versa, travelling the world and bridging time and tone, juxtaposing images from the Bible with animated films. The poems search for answersfrom nature, from dreams, from human connectionand often conclude that the only answer is to surrender to forces beyond anyone’s control . . . I stopped underlining lines in this poetry collection when I realized that I was underlining every page.”

Ari Shapiro, host of NPR’s All Things Considered

“Andrew Burt’s Poems for a Cartoon Mouse gives voice to the underside of the American-Jewish symbiosis in a light and playful style, worthy of Ecclesiastes. His poetry softens no edges, sweetens no puzzles, dispels no darkness, and yet it dazzles.”

Rabbi James E. Ponet, Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain, Emeritus, Yale University

About the Author

Andrew Burt lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two sons. This is his first book of poetry. He is the author of American Hysteria (2015: Lyons Press)