Here Be Monsters

Overview


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 ...
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Overview


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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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." —Oxford American

“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.”—Yusef Komunyakaa

"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."--The Bloomsbury Review

“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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820335766
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2010
  • Series: The National Poetry Series
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Colin Cheney’s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, Massachusetts Review, Kenyon Review, and Crazyhorse. In 2006, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Cheney teaches at New York University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Table of Contents

An Explanation of Dark Matter 3

Transmutation Notebook B 4

Cosmography with Retriever 5

Considering John Mark Karr with Laura McPhee's Photographs of the River of No Return 8

Poet in New York 9

Landfill Orchids 11

Dress Rehearsal for Bestiary 13

Lord God Bird 16

Our Blood Aligns Toward Something 18

Here Be Monsters 21

Half Ourselves & Half Not 23

Watson and the Shark 25

How We Were Spared 31

Elegy for Elliott Smith 33

Of Lights That Go Before Men, and Follow Them Abroad in the Fields, by the Night Season 35

Infidelity 37

Decline of the North American Songbird 39

Phaethon 43

Of Their Hideous Change 44

Ars Poetica with Vulture 46

Stabat Mater (Marie Curie's Pitchblende) 49

Letter to James Hansen from Boulogne 51

Observatory 53

Tractor, Riveter 54

Or Is It Yours? 56

Hanging Garden 58

Stroud's Digest on the Diseases of Birds 65

When to Paint the Eyes In 69

Jitterbugs 71

Film & Ghost Film 73

Husbandry 75

See It Feelingly 70

Regulations on the Creation of New Species 77

Salt Marsh 73

Notes 79

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