[REVIEW] Can You Sign My Tentacle? by Brandon O’Brien

A Black woman's (my) hand holds the paperback of Can You Sign My Tentacle up in front of a fancy hotel elevator. The cover depicts an elder God, half human half writhing tentacles, eyes fathomless, purple dreadlocks poppin', holding a sharpie marker in one outstretched, ageless hand.

(Buy this book.)

The author of this speculative poetry collection is from Trinidad and Tobago. I’ve never been there, but I imagine that being islands, there are beaches there, with waves that flow across the sand and lap against the rocks in the same way that these poems flow across your eyes and lap against your thoughts.

It’s a very peaceful image and tone for a book of poems that are, in the words of the poet himself, based around the concept of the Elder Gods harassing American rappers for autographs. The concept is hilarious, and some of the poems elicit grins and smirks, but they’re also thoughtful, political, and in a few instances, beautiful and touching. These poems reckon with race, with sexuality, with culture, with utopia. They shine a light upward through the marginalizing shadows a certain famous creator of Mythos left lurking over horror fiction and if that light bounces back occasionally and points a beam or two back at the culture — why does J Cole say bitch so much, anyway?– it’s all part of the fun and food for thought.

It feels odd to review this, knowing that in order to really absorb and understand, I’ll need to read it again and again and again. It feels good to review this, knowing that I get to read these poems again and again and again.

You know the drill – I don’t star writers I’ve met. Instead, a drop of utopia and a special sharpie that writes on eldritch scales without bleeding to Can You Sign My Tentacle?

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