Megan Fernandes’ collection Good Boys takes a fresh and brilliant look at the anxieties and violence of our world, as well as the stories we create to accept them. These poems are both vast and personal. In them, I ran in the suburbs, visited Paris, and imagined what I would miss about the earth. Fernandes’ speaker is both vulnerable and bold. She gleans revelation from each new experience, including tarot readings, goat miscarriages, and knocking on the metal of an airplane before taking flight.
In this collection, mythology is an intimate part of the present moment. The speaker imagines herself stuck between Scylla and Charybdis and hears Virgil sing in her ribcage. We are asked to look at our own stories critically: what narratives do we have of our reality, and which of them are true? Which of them are harmful? Fernandes recognizes the stories we condone while unweaving them, and she does so with precision. She writes, “Only white people // can imagine a past / that was better // than now.” In the poem “Regret is a Blue Dive,” the speaker insists, “Things that are brave are often painful,” and wrestles with the possibility of being alone. These poems have an insistent, challenging, and beautiful honesty. They ask us to face uncertainty and let it linger, rather than running away.
Fernandes’ work also gives language to experiences I have previously been unable to name. For example, in her poem “Fabric in Tribeca,” her speaker refers to her sadness as “very adult” because it “will not make a scene” and asks, “Who makes curtains to give their sadness a perimeter?” Fernandes writes that, on earth, “everything is a portrait of gravity.” In every poem, I discovered something new or rediscovered something familiar. I am grateful for Fernandes’ voice and for the company these poems afford me as I move through the world.
Good Boys by Megan Fernandes. Tin House, February 2020.
Reviewer bio: Emily Cinquemani’s poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Ploughshares, Colorado Review, 32 Poems, and Indiana Review. She is a poetry editor for The Adroit Journal.
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