Cover Image: Can You Sign My Tentacle?

Can You Sign My Tentacle?

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Member Reviews

CAN YOU SIGN MY TENTACLE? is the type of poetry book I wished I could have read and studied in university. It flips the horror genre upside down and uses other-worldly monsters to create a landscape where very real issues and themes of racism and sexism are explored through an entirely new lens. Here, the "horror" isn't so much monsters and mayhem, but the situations people find themselves in. I truly wish I could discuss this one with other readers to share thoughts on it!

I admit that some of the poems went right over my head, but others sparked so much emotion and gave my brain a workout. Some stayed with me well after finishing, and I found myself venturing back to certain lines and sections, reading them over again.

This was my first time reading horror poetry, and while some parts were a bit confusing, others were completely enthralling. I loved this collection, and can't wait to read more.

Thank you to the publisher, Interstellar Flight Press, for providing me with a digital ARC via NetGalley.
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"The foxes wanted something to eat, after all. To roast it all and grin, to live rich at the summit. But the smoke rose to meet them. The tar baby never stopped hungering. It already ate all of the poor. That was just its job. Its salary was the flesh of everything else. "
I enjoyed some poems but some doesn't make sense to me(sorry) and some are so good and meaningful.
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As a Lovecraft fan myself, I was really excited to see just how would the author connect a 20h century writer - his lifework plagued with blatant racism - with some of the most influential black artists out there. The result was really interesting, flawed, but well executed.
 While the Lovecraftian connections reach their climax on the various "Lovecraft Thesis" (aside from constant references throughout the verses), I enjoyed way more the writer's innovative talent with his "autograph style" of unraveling the story. I think it brought a necessary freshness to the book because each time I was reading a Lovecraft Thesis, I always caught myself anticipating and thinking "who's Hastur going to ask an autograph from next?". Aside from that, by either various undertones or being the central theme, almost every poem was a testament to black struggle in society, reaching their peak with the various "That Business They Call Utopia".
 The only flaws I can really think of are in the way the poems were written. Losing direction with a lack of solid cohesion between verses, the reader sometimes gets lost and is left with a jumbled mess of cosmic infinity and rap. However, by using a mostly colloquial tone, each poem felt like hearing a live performance, which I also really liked and think helps the lovecraftian and hip-hop themes, to get closer. If this was the author's intention, he absolutely nailed it. 
 The poems about MF Doom and Gambino were my favorites btw, I especially liked the verses dedicated to Teddy Perkins (aka the best episode of the second season of Atlanta), which curiously enough, while reading other reviews, I think most people didn't get it because they've never watched the show.
  In conclusion, I have to recommend this book to every Lovecraft, poetry, or overall hip-hop fan because, even if you don't like it, you have to admire the braveness and freshness of it's concept, which the author also discusses in his final note: a heart to heart talk between  reader and writer, a bridge usually hard to cross.
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I don't read poetry often and I don't know anything about Lovecraft horror which would probably helped me out here. I do know he was a racist and that some Black writers have been doing interesting things using the types of monsters he's created. I'll admit I did not understand many of these stories. However there were lines throughout that I highlighted because they stood out to me. The horror part really didn't come through in this collection for me.
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Can You Sign My Tentacle? by Brandon O'Brien is very cool in a unique way. The concept works for me as I entered blindsided; however, it can work both ways. Some may not enjoy it. It was a jarring experience at first. But, it's a very cool mix of some really cool things!
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I'm gonna be honest - I was super excited to read this collection but it just wasn't for me. 

The description was very enticing - I'd never heard of horror poetry before. The setting was surreal undoubtedly but few of the poems really conveyed any terror/dread, which I would've expected given the supposed horror theme.  What did come through were the allusions to racism and violence - there was an undercurrent of that running throughout the whole book. 

There were a number of poems which stuck with me, and its clear that the author is a brilliant writer. Many of them were beyond my comprehension, however. I do enjoy poetry that's not immediately revealing, work that 
requires some musing for its true meaning to be gleaned. But no matter how many times I read some of these poems, they were just too obscure to make any sense to me. I ended up having to force my way through them.
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This mixture of horror, hip-hop, and poetry is super intriguing. Originally the cover is what caught my eye. The colors are extremely eyecatching and the art pulls you into wanting to read and learn more about what is going on. 

Though some of the pop culture references go over my head which make some of the poems hard for me to really get, there is enough material here to understand the points that O'Brien is making. 

There is beauty in differences and O'Brien's work demands you look at blackness and see its beauty and uniqueness. 

Not 100 percent sure what is going on in some of these poems, but the ones that I do I am here for. This might just be one of those poetry books that I go through 2 or more times to truly anylize and understand the works.

I would recommend for any fans of horror, hip-hop, and/or poetry. Definitely one of those instances where judging a book by its cover has paid off.
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This is such a read which is quite short yet you might get crazy visions while reading it.

The writing in a writing format, you might feel the stories are quiet chaotic and confusing.

I did feel it too. I wish the writing have something to deliver as I felt confused with most lines and had little to no idea what they were talking about.

I like the vivid descriptions of the gory and horror elements. Other than this, I feel this book might be a little too confusing for nonpoetry readers.

Thank you, author and the publisher, for the advance reading copy.
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This is not for me. Sorry.
No ha sido para mi. Lo siento.
No sé si ha sido porque está en inglés (lo dudo porque ya leo habitualmente en inglés) o porque ha sido demasiado random, es que no he entendido nada. He llegado a un punto que he desconectado mientras leía.
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This book was not written for me as a white reviewer. I  definitely can see this collection going viral though. I can appreciate it for everything that it has the possibility to do.
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As a lover of speculative poetry, I was very excited about this collection.

The Good:
This collection does a fantastic job of handling tone throughout the reader’s journey. A perfect blend of horror and humor lies at the core fo the appeal of this collection. The project is fascinating and I think would be better served by the sprawl of a full-length collection.

The Bad: 
It gets very repetitive. Some of the poems, which were evidently meant to be a series, do not have enough difference to be considered distinct works. They seem more like different iterations of the same symphony. In a collection this short, I would not want to see series at all because there isn’t’t enough space to fully flesh out the potential and that is what’s happening here. It’s cramped with series of poems with little development of the overall arch.

The Conclusion:
It was a fantastic concept and idea which wasn’t given the time to fully cook and develop before publication.
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the cover is absolutely stunning! omy-
i am definitely new to poetry, but this sounded very interesting. it did however not meet up to my expectations. i didn't really understand a lot of things so i missed a lot of the actual plot, that is on me because am extremely new to poetry, but the atmosphere some of the poems created was good. i would have liked this more if it was not written in actual poems. i am interested in picking up other (future) books by this author.
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Can You Sign My Tentacle? is a book of cosmic horror poems that takes the genre and its racist roots and flips it. The description reads “Lovecraftian-inspired nightmares are reversed as O’Brien asks readers to see Blackness as radically significant.” This refers to the significance of continuing to struggle and survive against huge structures of power trying to destroy them. The idea seems to be that the horrors aren’t nearly as awe-inspiring as the struggle. Imagine, if you will, a human standing before Cthulhu shouting “I’m still here, you big slimy fuck!”

A lot of the poems are dark, but they’re funny, as well. The entire concept demands it, on some level! You have poems on topics like “Hastur asks for Donald Glover’s Autograph,” in which Hastur, the unspeakable one, the peacock king, a creature of nameless aeons and inconceivable dimensions, just… in awe of Childish Gambino. Which is fair, you know? In the autograph series of poems, O’Brien is really successful in making the monsters small and the humans big.

Every poetry book I’ve ever read has one standout poem, one that maybe isn’t the best poem for everyone, or the most eye-catching or the one with the deepest meaning or most radical ideas, but that really gets in my head. Here, that was “time, and time again.” The imagery is what hooked me here, sweet and simple and aware of it. Give me simple words that sink into my bones, give me a love story, make it gay and bittersweet, and you have me. And that’s the poem! A pair of lovers, separated by death and brought back together in an alternate universe. It was beautiful and a little disorienting and exactly my jam.

There are a lot of things I didn’t understand, in this book, in the way of poetry. It’s the sort of thing that I will need to ponder and return to a few times. Doing so will be a pleasure!

Can You Sign My Tentacle? is coming out August 2021 from Interstellar Flight Press.
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You should never judge a book by its cover, but this one is definitely eye-catching.  And well worth the read, too.  A perfect meld of sci-fi and poetry, this collection is something I haven't come across before.  My favorite was "Birth, Place".
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Really interesting collection, and one I was definitely looking forward to reading.

The humorous title gives way to a collection of poems in which the Lovecraftian eldritch horrors ask well known hip hop artists to sign them an autograph. A witty way to defuse the cosmic-horror and the magnitude and lower them to the ground, at the poem level it works, but I'm not really sure if it does conceptually or thematically.

Perhaps my main gripe is that there are already pop-culture reclaimed cosmic monsters, (for example, all the flavors of kaijū, that even did appear as an Easter Egg in a recent Magic: The Gathering collection), and repeating the theme, changing the monster and the rapper made me detach myself a little bit, like watching different kaijū films in order with their different flavors. Separatedly, they can bear a powerful social commentary, but together they feel like any of these Japanese films marathon.

But perhaps that was intended.

Outstanding for me was the MF Doom poem, perhaps because it's a very powerful elegy in which we can see MF Doom elevated, instead of having the theme downgraded. It definitely stood out, with the rhythmic repetition that Brandon O'Brien skillfully uses throughout the collection. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Insterstellar Flight Press for providing me an eARC for this review.
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Because I am not as well-read in SpecPo as I would like to be, I fell into a trap when I agreed to read Can You Sign My Tentacle?, the poetry collection by Brandon O’Brien. I was seduced by the cover art, a delightful piece by Trevor Fraley. The colors, the line art, the title font (in conjunction with the whimsical title) lulled me into the expectation of wry, lighthearted poems that would juxtapose Lovecraftian mythology with contemporary popular culture. I made the horribly cliché mistake of associating Fraley’s comic-style cover illustration with material that was perhaps not so important as other, more serious endeavors. I, who should most definitely know better, confused comic with comedic. Based on the cover, I lazily assumed the content to be Less Stuff, More Fluff, as it were.

But please let me assure you, this collection is as serious as it gets. Oh, it does definitely blend the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft with the media-driven existence of today’s hip-hop artists. Among other topics. It does so wryly. There are whimsical moments. I’m sure there is some lightheartedness within these pages, for those who know how to find it, for those readers for whom these poems are written.

I, however, am not such a reader.

I am an outsider to these poems, one who has been granted the honor of reading/listening to O’Brien’s work. His culture is not my culture and thus, many of his references are from outside of my sphere of experience.

Make no mistake, the fact of this is not a criticism of the work. Who am I to say that a poet must speak to me, for me? No. As O’Brien notes in his “Lovecraft Thesis #1,” “if you can’t make sense of what / the rhythm of time seeks to say / then it wasn’t for you”. To be clear, however, nor should you make the mistake of thinking that if the words are not meant for me, they have no message for me. Quite the contrary.

A non-Native native of the American West, I have spent most of my life living within an hour’s travel from one Indian Boarding School or another, and the recent news (disturbing, yet to those of us who are familiar with the system, not particularly surprising) of mass unmarked graves of Native children, victims of these schools, weighs heavily on me these days. “Birth, Place” is about the experiences of an altogether different people, and yet the lines “Shade will one day grow / in the place where your father’s / bones once called me low.” bring to my mind the resistance and resilience of my Native friends and neighbors.

A father of two daughters, I have spent my life as a parent seeing and fearing and cringing at the casual and explicit misogyny they must face every day. I know there are sub-texts that pass me by in “Cthylla Asks For J. Cole’s Autograph,” but it reminds me that my daughters are strong, that they are ‘girl-gods’ and that they, I pray, will “need rescue last.”

More than two-dozen poems are included in the collection. Some, such as those noted above, evoked scenes and situations from my own life. More drew me closer to O’Brien’s world. All gave me pause. These are serious works. This collection is an event. These poems are, as we used to say, the Real Deal. If they are written for you, you should clasp them to you and read them. If they are not written for you, you may want to begin with the Author’s Note at the back of the book in order to gain some context, and then you should clasp them to you and read them. Now.

ARC from Interstellar Flight Press via NetGalley
Review posted to GoodReads
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Absolutely loved this collection of poetry! It was very different and refreshing from what I've read before. I was transported and highly immersed in this one. Kudos to the author and thank you to Netgalley for my very first ARC :)
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As can often be the case in both horror and poetry, not everyone will understand the messages or how the author(s) decide to place the words together. When combining these genres, O'Brien doesn't fulfill on both, and as such the poems can come across as too convoluted. That is not to say this collection isn't enjoyable; it was more of an experience and an exercise in accepting rather than understanding. The cover art is arguably my favorite part of this book.
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Most of these poems I would love to hear read aloud or performed at a poetry reading, but in my opinion the impact doesn’t hit when reading silently. I was really excited for the concept, but it ended up not really being my thing.
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Again, while I do enjoy poetry, these simply did not click with me in style, although I did enjoy the flow of them. However, the artistry and care that went into each poem is clear.
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