Here Be Monsters

Poems by Colin Cheney
Selected by David Wojahn


"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, author of Warhorses: Poems

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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 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.

The National Poetry Series

Page count: 80 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

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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.