Digging into a new poetry book is always kind of like opening a box of chocolates. Either it’ll be a little dull, or – in the best cases – it’s full of treats, all a little different from each other. Chloe N. Clark’s Your Strange Fortune is definitely the latter. It’s also an incredibly haunting book, full of dead monsters, zombies, ghosts, abandoned cities, and a general loneliness that is hard to place, but resonates in a place somewhere deep in your chest.
I will be honest. 2019 is a little bit of a blur to me, and I only got medicated for ADHD in late 2019 after suffering from it – apparently – all my life. So I am very embarrassed to admit that at some point, I got emailed an ARC of this – amazing – book and completely forgot about it. There are many reasons this happens, all of which make me sound terrible and none of which are easy to explain to neurotypical people! But I stumbled upon it while looking through my email and I’m very glad I did. (This is also why, while ‘I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review’ is technically true…) Clark’s poetry is that type of blank verse that tells you a story while also painting a picture – poetry that almost tricks you into not thinking it’s poetry. There’s also a particularly strong visual element to Clark’s work – breaks in lines, use of space and word length, arrangement, all just as much part of the poetry as the actual work. “Flora and Fauna of the Outer Rings” is a particularly gorgeous and vivid example of this.
The thing that truly stands out to me the most, however, is the speculative element winding through all of these poems. It doesn’t feel even remotely strange or forced to jump from poetry about a chupacabra to an ode to museums about “Earth-that-was”, to songs about the end of the world. It’s all written in rich, gorgeous language – and with the same earnest sincerity that sells that these are all topics of the same import and worthiness. It’s lovely to read about topics that speak to the dreamer in me, not just the hurt, with just as much literary flair as more “serious” topics.
Chloe N. Clark’s ‘Your Strange Fortune’ is published by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press – get a copy!