Mary Shelley Makes a Monster
Aqueduct Press 2019
In Octavia Cade’s brilliant collection of poetry Mary Shelley Makes a Monster (Aqueduct Press, 2019), the famous author of Frankenstein crafts a creature out of ink, mirrors, and the remnants of her own heartbreak and sorrow. Abandoned and alone after Shelley’s death, the monster searches for a mother to fill her place. Its journey carries it across continents and time, visiting other female authors throughout the decades — Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Octavia Butler, and others. Pulling from the biographical accounts of these amazing authors, these poems beautifully examine the nature of art and creation, reading and consumption, and how monsters are really reflections of ourselves.
The monster has no heart.
Mary has two.
There is the one she keeps in her bureau—
wrapped up in silk and parchment,
burnt about the edges and stinking of salt.
It is the heart of the man who was her lover
and it is less damaged than the heart inside her chest.
That is a mangled and un-pretty thing,
but she takes it out of her chest
sits it beside the other:
two hearts on a writing desk.
The vibrations send the papers flying.
Octavia Cade is a New Zealand writer. She’s sold nearly 50 short stories to markets like Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Strange Horizons. Several novellas and a collection of essays on food and horror have sold to various small presses. She is the 2020 writer-in-residence at Massey University, and Mary Shelley Makes A Monster is her second poetry collection. The first, Chemical Letters, was written while studying for her PhD (in science communication) and is about a woman who spends her afterlife in the periodic table.
Andrea Blythe bides her time waiting for the apocalypse by writing speculative poetry and fiction. She is the author of Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch (2018) and coauthor of Every Girl Becomes the Wolf (Finishing Line Press, 2018), a collaborative chapbook written with Laura Madeline Wiseman. She serves as a cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast. Find her online at andreablythe.com or on Twitter/Instagram @AndreaBlythe.
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