Here Be Monsters
Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in
Pub Date: 04/15/2010
List Price: $19.95
Here Be Monsters
In his debut collection, Colin Cheney maps an American landscape of New York rooftop gardens, occupied Iraq, and crumbling New England farms. In poems inhabited by Charles Darwin and climate scientists, Beethoven and Elliott Smith, the reader finds a way to navigate the beauty and fears native to modern life. One sees in Cheney's poetry the convergence of the urban and the natural and the ways in which the two inhabit each other-an uneasy coexistence at best, but the only kind possible.
Pollination and endangerment loom large in Here Be Monsters, as do the binaries of creation and destruction. A whale dies trapped under a bridge; bees kept in rooftop gardens lose their way; a friend stricken by malaria is taken to an urban hospital that doesn't recognize the disease; a woman cremates her beloved dog in her pottery kiln and finds, the next morning, two perfect clay lungs among the ashes. In his poems Cheney explores the various types of damage with which humans are so closely entwined, including our encroachment on nature, our propensity to give in to our worst impulses, and the havoc that our cells can wreak on our own bodies.
Here Be Monsters is a desperate and magical exploration of the world as it is and as it lives in the imagination. Mythology meets evolution. History mingles, comfortably, with legend. The poems are lyrical and often classical, yet grounded and fresh. . . . Few writers can traverse such extensive territory as beautifully and seamlessly as he does in this debut collection.
Nature is a serious character in Here Be Monsters, and these highly textured poems show us that disparate elements live side by side. Colin Cheney's surprising, graceful leaps are never misleading or arbitrary. From poem to poem, line by line, classical and modern conceits converge throughout Here Be Monsters; the extraordinary touches the ordinary, and something changes in us.
As with the work of old geographers, the poems in Here Be Monsters abound in strange knowledge, which Cheney folds with assured craft into his lyrical/narrative mix, his language a beautifully balanced concoction-now simple and direct, now oblique and complex-of careful science, remote lore, and immediate feeling, all conjuring an atmosphere of skeptical wonder that the poet shares with us.
—Eamon Grennan, author of Matter of Fact: Poems
This is not the easiest poetry to write, but it is a joy to read and ponder as he turns wisdom into unforgettable, multidimensional journeys.
Each poem reads like an ancient map, with Cheney-its skillful cartographer-guiding the reader through uncharted seas of science..As a reader, I am grateful that these maps survived.
—Brandon Courtney, Hollins Critic