Your Strange Fortune by Chloe N. Clark: Review

I received a copy of Chloe N. Clark’s Your Strange Fortune for review purposes. As always, this review reflects only my honest thoughts on the book.

 width=Your Strange Fortune
by Chloe N. Clark

Publication Date: July 2019
Publisher: Vegetarian Alcoholic Press

56 pages

Genre: Poetry

 

 

Chloe N. Clark’s Your Strange Fortune is our good fortune. This debut volume of rare sympathy and imagination leaps easily from myths to monsters, ghosts to zombies, fairy tales to the Apocalypse that, for this poet and so many today, is “just/the fact of life.” Clark’s inventive, unforgettable voice ranges widely— from up-to-the-moment poems like “Googolplex,” in which curiosity becomes dark compulsion, to the far future when museums feature the relics of our own time: “the things we could not bear/to leave behind us:/ pieces of highways, signs/ …one single spike from Lady/ Liberty’s crown.” Clark understands that time speeds forward and that myth and popular culture are close kin that offer the songs of ghosts who once were us, “the ones who/ had such beautiful voices but only when/ they thought no one was listening.” Like the poet’s “clockwork nightingale” whose song is both dystopian and beautiful, Chloe Clark’s voice rises above the usual din to bring us a debut volume that is rich with unsettling questions but always unflinchingly alive.

–Ned Balbo, author of The Cylburn Touch-Me-Nots and 3 Nights of the Perseids

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My Review

I’ve always been a big fan of gothicism in literature, and especially poetry, so Chloe N. Clark’s Your Strange Fortune was right up my alley from the start.  From ghosts to fairytales to witches, the book starts off spooky and maintains it in the most beautiful way throughout each and every individual poem. In fact, things get outright witchy (another favourite aesthetic!).  Your Strange Fortune features palmistry, bones, blood, heartbeats…all the makings of a fantastic spell.

I think my favourite part of this book, though, is the incredible use of sensory details. You can truly “feel” the poems as you read.  It’s almost uncanny to experience them–it goes beyond reading:

“…we eat only the dead, / we can taste their dreaming…”

Have I eaten the dead? No. Have I tasted dreaming? I don’t think so.  Yet Clark makes you feel as if you have.

That quote comes from “Rat-Infested Ghost Ship Off the Coast of Britain.” A few other favourites: “You Told Me to Check the Facts and Read the Numbers,” “The Other Side of This is Still Here,” “Generations,” and “This Song is the Same Song, You are the Different One.” But, if I’m being completely honest?  I could easily argue that most of these poems were each my favourite!

About the Author

Chloe N. Clark holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Environment. She teaches multimodal composition, communication, and creative writing. Her poetry and fiction has appeared such places as Apex, Bombay Gin, Drunken Boat, Gamut, Hobart, Uncanny, and more. She writes columns for Nerds of a Feather, and can be found on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes. Her chapbook The Science of Unvanishing Objects was published by Finishing Line Press and her debut full length poetry collection is forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. She is also founding co-editor-in-chief of Cotton Xenomorph.

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