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Here Be Monsters

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Here Be Monsters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Reem

    I love this book a lot. I'm often resistant to this kind of poetry--poetry that requires the constant looking-up of its references to mythology, biology, history, music--but something about Cheney's weaving together of all these facts and histories with the vulnerable and personal wins me over. There's a lot of ekphrasis here, both in the traditional sense of poet-writes-about-painting, and in the use of song, architecture, gardening, filmmaking--all these different arts as a means to one anothe I love this book a lot. I'm often resistant to this kind of poetry--poetry that requires the constant looking-up of its references to mythology, biology, history, music--but something about Cheney's weaving together of all these facts and histories with the vulnerable and personal wins me over. There's a lot of ekphrasis here, both in the traditional sense of poet-writes-about-painting, and in the use of song, architecture, gardening, filmmaking--all these different arts as a means to one another. This books is an exploration of humanity and mortality, and though it is often melancholy, it also takes such joy in the things that have been created, both naturally and by human hand. These poems, for me at least, are slow and hard to digest in a good way. You're forced to re-read, to dwell, to absorb the language and make those connections between body and nature and art.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aran

    Not my favorite. Very confusing to me. Couldn't get into it, couldn't follow anything--the confusion that kept happening made me think that there must be something deeper going on that I wasn't getting. Not sure, ultimately, that that's the case. Pretty sometimes. Not my favorite. Very confusing to me. Couldn't get into it, couldn't follow anything--the confusion that kept happening made me think that there must be something deeper going on that I wasn't getting. Not sure, ultimately, that that's the case. Pretty sometimes.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Porfilio

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joe Vallese

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fritz

  7. 5 out of 5

    Despy

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jake Adam

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Baker

  11. 5 out of 5

    Clare Oldham

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tim Lepczyk

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  17. 5 out of 5

    P J

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  19. 4 out of 5

    Henry Joseph Joseph

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  21. 4 out of 5

    Russell

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jules

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary Kate

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Mills

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sachiko

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kelsie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Scarlett Peterson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emma

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