Cover Image: Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota

Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for granting me early access to this book. I always love the opportunity to connect to unknown-t0-me poets and to discover new voices. This book was lovely to keep on my phone and dip into and savour in between other tasks (I would read poems instead of scrolling on social media!). Really loved this collection - thank you!
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A thought-provoking collection of poems that challenged my understanding of nature and my relationship to it. I was captivated by Gorman's visceral imagery and the dystopian premise it revealed. A great book for anyone who uses poetry as a way to ask and answer important questions.
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Quick read. Lovely illustrations, enjoyed the invasive species premise of the book, some of the poems were evocative but unable to understand the imagery in several of the poems. Afterword was interesting but if you weren’t already aware of the hazards these species pose a more detailed explanation might be useful to include there.
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This was a collection of 21 poems with each poem dedicated to a specific invasive species that can be found in Minnesota (hence the name of this book). 

To be honest, I didn't know many of these species (such as the Brittle Naiad, Edodea, Sea Lamprey, and many more.) which I think affected my understanding of the poem (I didn't understand most of the poems).

Of the 21 poems, there was really only two poems that I quite liked - the Norway Maple and the Trapdoor Snail.

I think reading the Author's Note first, before reading the poems, helped me understand and appreciate the poems a bit more. Ultimately though, I think I would've enjoyed this book more if I was more familiar with the Minnesotan landscape and environment, and if I was more familiar with some of these invasive species.
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This is a superb and elegant and funny and spooky book of poetry and I love it. Perfect for fans of Max Brooks, Cherie Priest, and T. Kingfisher, these poems confront climate change via mythology and imagination, offering beauty and nightmares both.
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At first glance, Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota is not a book of horror poetry, or speculative poetry at all. It reads, on the surface, like a book of nature poems, possibly odes to or personifications of the titular invasive species. However, reading the author’s notes, it becomes clear the book and its poems are set in the near-future. If the world is not post-apocalyptic, or even apocalyptic, it’s certainly leaning that way, and nature is beginning to rear her powerful head and reclaim what’s rightfully hers, and Gorman is there to record all the awful details.

What makes this book interesting is how some species that are so common, and occasionally encouraged, are seen as invasive. One example of this is “Earthworms.” Earthworms are usually seen as friends to gardeners and fishermen alike, but the University of Minnesota argues that they are, indeed, invasive species and that there are no native earthworms in Minnesota. They consume the duff layer in hardwood forests, reducing the amount of compostable material for the native plants and trees. So, when Gorma writes

Dumped as so much half-bait
into brown lakes, algae-stained
by motors who had no faith
in our resurrection

dropped in water, in soil,
in swamp and concrete, underneath
the collapse we entwine

the poem becomes almost nightmarish. Here, earthworms are multiplying and consuming and replacing buildings and statues with a writhing, wriggling horde. This kind of intelligence and research combined with a speculative slant makes for really strong, and terrifying, poetry.

Elsewhere, it seems that Gorman is speaking to someone else, and the invasive species of the poem is simply an accessory to the near-future pre-apocalypse. For example, in in “Norway Maple,” she writes

Now you and I tolerate pollution
as well as the trees
only a few tar spots on our lungs,
felt gall on our skin.

This is a horrific reality in which a species that was transplanted to the U.S. for its shade and adaptability has taken over the habitat of the native red maple and created a monoculture so thorough that it’s possible to tap the trees for sap and create a syrup from them.

Overall, this is an eerie collection, especially upon rereading. Amelia Gorman takes very innocuous, even deceptively helpful, species that are, by definition, invasive and turns their natural conquest into a near-future, preapocalyptic nightmare. What makes it more chilling is the cautionary aspect of this book. This is not a far-distant future, but one in which readers could very well be alive and experience. The subtle but overwhelming horror of this realization builds deceptively through the book until readers are left with a sense of dread upon completion. This is a magnificent collection that any horror reader will enjoy.
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This collection was so-so. But to be honest, I may have enjoyed the book’s illustrations more than the poetry. It felt quite shallow to me, overall.
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4/5

A lovely and unsettling collection of poems that engage with the horror of unbalanced ecosystems. The juxtaposition of climate grief with the disturbing allure of apocalypse runs through its pages, the temptation of giving up revealed in poems such as the memorable No. 6—Emerald Ash Borer. Ventures from the realm of science into the realm of science fiction allow exploration of possible futures—futures that few readers are likely to find desirable beyond the enduring appeal of imagining how one might try to survive. Gorman effectively uses simple language and poetic structures to evoke and tangle with some very thorny concepts indeed. 

This book is appealing in form as well as content. The cursive poem titles and attractive illustrations—resembling the style of hand-drawn plates in vintage field guides—are an excellent match for its title, cover, and themes. Some of the illustrations—most taken from public domain sources—are better than others, but none are poorly done. Book design is, I think, often particularly important with volumes of poetry. This volume was clearly put together by a team who knew what they were doing.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It would make a good gift for lovers of nature poetry, particularly those who struggle with climate grief and might find catharsis in poems that explore the darkness of living in a world of changing—and collapsing—ecosystems.

I read a free advance review copy of this book via Netgalley, but I may well purchase a print copy.
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I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this, but I enjoyed it. I couldn’t fully connect with some poems but I assume it’s because of the differences between the place they are set and where I live. As a biologist I enjoyed the biological references and illustrations, as well as the dystopian (not so far) future.
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Interesting premise - poetry extrapolating out from a field guide into a speculative sci-fi setting. It eases you into the sci-fi aspect, but ends a bit too soon and it doesn’t get to fully spread its wings in my opinion. Chapbook though, so obviously there’s only so much it can really dive in. Existing invasive species, but extrapolated out to dystopia and chaos. Solid premise, would love to see more. (Also, maybe move the afterword to be a prologue, and do a bit of editing there?)
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A brilliant concept, interesting title and beautiful cover. That being said, the book itself was … okay. Maybe because I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting, but this book did not live up to it. I did like most of the poems and especially the language that was used; but to be honest, reading the author’s note at the end was the best bit for me.
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Poetry about how invasive species' role in a near dystopian future? Yes please!

	Field Guide to The Invasive Species of Minnesota is a fantastic collection of poetry, intersecting ecology, dystopian science fiction an fantasy, and beautiful prose. Each poem is titled with a specific species (Ex. Grecian Foxglove), which is paired with an illustration of the subject matter, field guide style. Each poem is roughly a page, some spilling over into the two page category.  I was drawn to this title being categorized under sci-fi and fantasy, when I read the description I had to pick it up, and I was not disappointed. It was refreshing to read some modern poetry that is concise and takes heavy influence from more classic poetic structures and schemes. 
	I don't want to get too heavily into spoilers, as the poems do build on themselves to tell a greater story. However broadly this collection imagines a near dystopian future where invasive species and humanity have brought about ecological disaster. Themes of pollution, exploitation, and the fragility of ecosystems are carefully explored through this collection. 
	I personally loved Gorman's poetic style, there are line rhymes, and some more rigidly structured pieces, and then others that are more inventive in terms of form. The tone she captured of the haunting reclamation of nature was poignant and beautiful. The slow progression of detail - about the state of the world - building with each poem makes this collection perfect for extended analysis in any English or Ecology classroom. 
	It was clear that a lot of research went into this text. The entire time I was waiting for the zebra muscle to show up(as I knew it must). As someone with an education in ecology and biology this really struck a balance between art and scientific accuracy. 
	After reading this as the digital version I do find myself wanting a physical copy. I think that the poems paired with their illustrations on the page would make for a beautiful text, and the better way to get the full effect of the imagery at play. 
	My personal favorites in this collection were Curly Leaf Pondweed, Garlic Mustard, and Grecian Foxglove. Getting a more traditional feel in these pieces with hints at rhymes, as well as some of the best imagery in the collection. 
	I would highly recommend Field Guide to The Invasive Species of Minnesota to someone interested in how science fiction and fantasy can intersect with poetry, as well as people wanting to get into poetry but are wary of the writing being too obscure. Gorman's style is beautiful without obscuring meaning. There s a lot to love and analyze here, and that's what I look for in poetry. 

	Final note: Don't skip the author's note at the end. It gives great insight into the poetry and was a delightful part of the read.
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I received a free e-copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I got this because it was listed as sci-fi/fantasy as well as poetry. The description didn't let on a lot but it pretty much lead me to assume it was going to be a cool book of poems about some awesome fantasy creatures or at least cool fantasy takes on some normal creatures. No. 

Instead I get jumpscared by horror that just reminds me of the edgy nuclear apocalypse writing that was hot on the internet a few years ago except that writing was actually well done and beautifully written. I feel like they intended the writing to be Lovecraftian but the problem is that if you add the concept of pollution to Lovecraftian writing you end up with radiation instead of eldritch horrors.

The devices can get quite annoying, the author has a habit of shifting half a sentence down to the next line and in one or two poems it might be interesting but in almost every single one it gets tiring.

I sort of liked Elodea and the first half of Spiny Waterflea because it had a whimsical sort of feeling but then the second half just made it depressing again. That's what all these poems are, depressing, and I'd be fine with that if the poetry had interesting or properly used devices, or if I'd actually known what the poetry was going to be about but instead the book was very poorly summarised.

The pictures are nice though.
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As a Minnesota forager, gardener and nature lover as well as a poet, I couldn't resist this short poetry book. I found it to be well written and creative, though I didn't connect to many of the poems. They are dystopian and esoteric poems about invasive species in Minnesota, which is as odd as you'd expect but expertly done.

I read a digital ARC of this book via Net Galley.
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Akin to the Romantic poems, this collection gives us a look into the world we have made and the world we are making.
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4/5 Beautiful collection of poems!

The art of the different species is so beautiful along with the beautiful cover! I enjoyed most of the poems, a few lost me but I was always roped back in by the next poem. It was a quick read and if you enjoy nature I'd pick it up! This collection reminds me of fall and those pictures of Pinterest girls holding hot cider. It felt like a home away from home. 

Will hopefully pick up a physical copy for my collection sometime soon :)

I read this early on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This was such an interesting poetry collection, beautifully done prose and such simple but stark illustrations. Not only does it check those boxes but it was also informative! Many of these species I recognized but like who knew there are eels in Minnesota? Certainly not me.

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review!
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* I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review * 

I have enjoyed every book I have read from Interstellar Flight Press, and this one was no exception. I will probably end up buying a print copy because the vintage illustrations of the invasive species were lovely, but I feel a screen doesn't do them justice. 

I love conceptual poetry collections, eco-horror (or eco-dystopia, your choice), and speculative poetry, so this book hit every high note for me.  It also doesn't hurt that I have published a chapbook of poems whose title includes "A Field Guide To...", so how could I not feel drawn to this book? Though I hail from Florida and now live on the West Coast, I think that if you love nature, the outdoors, and flora/fauna, then you would appreciate this book. Every state has its own invasive species, so although these are specific to Minnesota, the poems are relatable. 

I enjoyed this poet's quiet, evocative language and poem structure. I appreciated these poems on a level of craftsmanship, as well as emotional and lyrical connection. The mythology was elegantly implemented in the work, and the plunge into surreal imagery was like a mash-up of Jeff VanderMeer & David Lynch. (That means I loved it.)  I also liked the near-future setting, which gives the collection a sense of urgency, because it's a bleak future that's all-too-possible unless we take steps to correct our course. There is meaning and message in these poems, as well as beauty and depth. 

The best part of this book was, for me, a surprise. The afterword, which is an essay in itself, contextualized the creation of these poems and their significance to the author. I would have loved a few blurbs or appendices about how the species came to be invasive, but it wasn't an obstacle to my enjoyment of the book or a requisite to understanding them. However, I would have loved the afterword to be the introduction to the poems, because I think that context for their genesis and the author's personal connection to these poems will deepen a reader's appreciation for them. I worry that readers may gloss over the afterword, and that would be a shame, because it deepened my connection to the poems. 

This collection reminded me to take a walk, enjoy the trees, and flowers, and sun, and not to take any of it for granted. That, in itself, makes this book of poetry invaluable.
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Slips seamlessly from cli-fi to sci-fi and back again. Taking place in a 2045 Minnesota ravaged by pollution and failed extra terrestrial escape attempts, the poems follow ordinary people adjusting and trying to survive.
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Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota is a near-future poetry collection, set roughly 20 years from now in a world where our climate has gotten worse and the invasive species currently living in Minnesota have also gotten worse. 

There's a lot to like in this collection, from great depictions of plants and animals to the hints at what the world has become in twenty short years. There are some poems, though, that feel like they're about watching grass grow. 

While there are some gems in the first part of the collection (Mute Swan, for example), the collection really picks up at poem #15, Sea Lamprey. The last seven poems are all pretty special. 

All in all, if you're into plant poetry, climate poetry, or like poetry and are from the upper Midwest, or better yet, Minnesota, this is a short and sweet collection that's worth your time.
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