If Irish poetry could not claim to be fine art before the twentieth century, it is not because there was a lack of Irish poets with talent and voice; rather, it is because the literary world ignored them, or willfully caricaturized them. Though the problem persists, this anthology makes it clear: the work of Irish poets is undeniably diverse, crafted with rigor, and historically urgent.
“Half the stories are about people in cities or in urban centers of the West who are only kind of glancingly aware of the anger and the occupation that’s going on around them.”
Johnson comments on the circumstances that informed many of the poems in the narrative, autobiographical book: watching films with her parents; learning about her father’s work as a bomber pilot in the Air Force during Cold War; and working with her parents’ principal and patient caregiver, Donna.
The novel takes the reader on a tour of a not-too-distant American past, when fear was weaponized and righteous rage boiled over. Smyer’s debut explores themes of the self in chaos; the prose is clean as bone and the anger is focused and piercing.
The brilliance of Millennial Roost is Pearson’s ability to explore dark, difficult conversations, but with the consideration and wherewithal to do so without perpetuating pain.