“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
"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."
"Cheney writes with a searching urgency that is frustratingly rare in contemporary poetry. His keen awareness of how personal history and public history inextricably commingle aligns him to some of the most demanding and ambitious masters of the past half-century, most noticeably Oppen and Lowell. But Cheney is very much his own man, both for the range of his concerns and for a sense of music that is both memorable and refreshingly quirky."
—David Wojahn, author of Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982-2004
"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
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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