For anyone not in the know, April is National Poetry Month! We love celebrating our favorite folks writing poetry as much as possible, and April allows for a month-long celebration of one of our favorite ways to consume spooky, visceral fiction.
We’ve got some great content planned for you this month, starting off with this fun list of dark poetry collections to check out if you normally read these other specific horror themes & tropes. If you’ve got any recommendations for us or decide to add any of these to your TBR shelves, we’d love to know! And remember to tag us & use the #NationalPoetryMonth tag in your posts this month for any cool poetry you’re featuring—we’ll be boosting as much as we can throughout the month on our Twitter & Instagram accounts.
Into the Forest and All the Way Through by Cynthia Pelayo
Nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Into the Forest and All the Way Through is a collection of true crime poetry that explores the cases of over one hundred missing and murdered women in the United States.
The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes by Sara Tantlinger
H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer. In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspiration from accounts and tales which spawned from the misdeeds of one Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Fact and speculation intertwine herein, just as they did during the man’s own lifetime. There’s plenty of room in the cellar for everyone in The Devil’s Dreamland.
How To Recognize a Demon has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison
Who doesn’t need to know How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend? From the first African-American to receive the HWA Bram Stoker award, this collection of both horror and science fiction short stories and poetry reveals demons in the most likely people (like a jealous ghost across the street) or in unlikely places (like the dimension-shifting dreams of an American Indian). Recognition is the first step, what you do with your friends/demons after that is up to you.
Monstrum Poetica by Jezzy Wolfe
When was the last time you walked through the woods? Checked under your bed? Walked down into your basement alone? Monstrum Poetica by Jezzy Wolfe is an invocation of boogeymen, a graveyard seance, a summons to horrors both large and small. This is a collection of poems that bite, scratch, snarl, and bleed. Filled with magnificent beasts and the sounds of cracked bones and broken teeth, Wolfe takes her readers through the folklore and mythology behind some of the world’s most terrifying creatures.
Here you’ll meet jinn, vampires, werewolves, and wendigos, tangle with mermaids, wraiths, aswang and hellhounds. It’s a dance of specters and spiders, a logbook of limbs and lost persons. If you’re lucky, you’ll learn what to do when the lights flicker, when the lightbulb goes out, when darkness becomes your only friend, and the next time you hear a whisper, or feel the hot breath of fear on your neck, you’ll remember what do, where to go…
Because this is a book that teaches you how to hunt monsters, how to track fiends, how to bathe in the blood and digestive juices all of things that go bump in the night. Carry this manual with you. Hold it close, memorize its contents for these poems are warnings, a resounding alarm. I suggest you head them. They might just save your life.
A Complex Accident of Life by Jessica McHugh
“I am a vessel of dauntless courage and severe evil. My joy will endeavor, my rage possess.”
Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jessica McHugh’s debut poetry collection, A Complex Accident of Life, combines visual art and text to create 52 pieces of Gothic blackout poetry exploring the intense passion, enigmatic nature, and transformative pleasure of life, viewed through the kaleidoscopic lens of a female horror artist.
Escaping the Body by Chloe N. Clark
Chloe N. Clark’s poetry collection takes readers through a catalog of the speculative body. Escaping the Body is a surreal and profound journey through space, forests, monsters, myths, spells, magic tricks, forests, and the body. Escaping the Body is a collection of dreams of the flesh, exploring the cosmic rifts between the soul and the body, encouraging readers to escape their body in search of the liminal space beyond skin and bones.
The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich
Doomsday is here and the earth is suffering with each breath she takes. Whether it’s from the nuclear meltdown, the wrath of the Four Horsemen, a war with technology, or a consequence of our relationship with the planet, humanity is left buried and hiding, our bones exposed, our hearts beating somewhere in our freshly slit throats.
The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who—or what—lives inside us once everything is taken away.
These pages hold the teeth of monsters against the faded photographs of family and friends, and here, Wytovich is both plague doctor and midwife, both judge and jury, forever searching through severed limbs and exposed wires as she straddles the line evaluating what’s moral versus what’s necessary to survive.
What’s clear though, is that the world is burning and we don’t remember who we are.
So tell me: who will you become when it’s over?
A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng
A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng is an exploration of the darkness inside us, the shadow-self that screams and begs, forever fighting to claw itself out. It’s a siren song of transformation, an uncovered diary that bleeds fairy tales and dystopias, and it reads like a grimoire full of spells and curses that bring monsters and madmen to life.
Between these pages, readers will meet women who hide behind the taste of poisoned apples, who set themselves on fire, who weep at riverbanks, the taste of freedom too much to swallow, too heavy to bear. They will be whisked away to faraway lands and unimaginable worlds, the drip of fog-soaked dreams a steady flow down their throats while they choke on betrayal and bathe in the waters of tears twice cried.
Sng’s poems are a blend of dark fantasy and science fiction, a changeling’s whisper and an ogre’s cry. They are both subtle and violent, and they weave themes of empowerment and strength through stars and earthquakes, forcing us to push away the rubble and look at what we’ve had to do to survive. They are the sacrifice in the forest and the haunting in the house, every gasp and ancient fear a reflection of the violence we’ve had to bury deep inside ourselves, all those battle cries and reimagined dreams we desperately try to forget. Here, Sng marries blood and magic, forever walking hand-in-hand with scar and ash, their imprints both a nightmare and a blessing, a dream and the truth.
Swallow them carefully. Once they’re inside you, there’s no getting them out.
Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch
Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch is an invocation, an ancient invitation that summons the darkness within and channels those lonely spirits looking for a host. It’s a collection that lives in the realm of ghosts and family curses, witchcraft and urban legends, and if you’re brave enough to peek behind the veil, the hauntings that permeate these pages will break seals and open doorways, cut throats and shatter mirrors.
You see, these poems are small drownings, all those subtle suffocations that live in that place between our ribs that swells with panic, incubates fear. Lynch shows her readers that sometimes our shadow selves—our secrets—are our sharpest weapons, the knives that rip through flesh, suture pacts with demons, cut deals with entities looking for more than a homecoming, something better, more intimate than family.
It’s about the masks we wear and the reflections we choose not to look at, and what’s most terrifying about the spells is these incantations show that we are the possessed, that we are our greatest monster, and if we look out of the corner of our eyes, sometimes—if we’ve damned ourselves enough—we can catch a glimpse of our own burnings, what monstrosities and mockeries we’re to become.
So cross yourselves and say your prayers. Because in this world, you are the witch and the hunter, the girl and the wolf.
Burials by Jessica Drake-Thomas
What is buried can return. Those who are dead can still speak. A witch can be burned, but not silenced. When the abattoir is opened, the dead will rise. Burials is the narrative of those whose voices have been taken away-murdered women, witches, ghosts. It’s about speaking one’s truth, and using magic to heal or to banish, even from beyond the grave.
I Am Not Your Final Girl by Claire C. Holland
From Claire C. Holland, a timely collection of poetry that follows the final girl of slasher cinema—the girl who survives until the end—on a journey of retribution and reclamation. From the white picket fences of 1970s Haddonfield to the apocalyptic end of the world, Holland confronts the role of women in relation to subjects including feminism, violence, motherhood, sexuality, and assault in the world of Trump and the MeToo movement. Each poem centers on a fictional character from horror cinema, and explores the many ways in which women find empowerment through their own perceived monstrousness.
Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn
The lives of more than twenty-five actresses lost before their time—from Marilyn Monroe to Brittany Murphy—explored in haunting, provocative new work by an acclaimed poet and actress.
Amber Tamblyn is both an award-winning film and television actress and an acclaimed poet. As such she is deeply fascinated-and intimately familiar—with the toll exacted from young women whose lives are offered in sacrifice as starlets. The stories of these actresses, both famous and obscure-tragic stories of suicide, murder, obscurity, and other forms of death—inspired this empathic and emotionally charged collection of new poetic work.
Featuring subjects from Marilyn Monroe and Frances Farmer to Dana Plato and Brittany Murphy—and paired with original artwork commissioned for the book by luminaries including David Lynch, Adrian Tome, Marilyn Manson, and Marcel Dzama—Dark Sparkler is a surprising and provocative collection from a young artist of wide-ranging talent, culminating in an extended, confessional epilogue of astonishing candor and poetic command.
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