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About the Author
"I'll never see dentures the same, or the California flag or a pearl brooch or river rock or shame. Heather Bourbeau chronicles the flotsam of human effort-both destructive and reparative-over the West Coast of the North American continent. She's convinced me there's no better way to get history than poetry. I feel close to these figures (both human and nonhuman) that time, greed, hypocrisy, and desperation have stolen from us. Monarch leaves you splashed with feeling and leavened with learning."
-Lulu Miller, author of Why Fish Don't Exist and Co-Host of Radiolab
"There are many histories of the western United States and they are not all created equal. In Monarch, poet Heather Bourbeau gives a master class in what the poet's eye can make of some of these histories. Make no mistake, this is not history as a dry and emotionless drumroll, Monarch is heat lightning: 'How do you bury bodies gathered in pieces by search parties with gunnysacks?' This collection reveals, unfolds, different stories each time you read it. You should read it."
-Kim Shuck, Seventh Poet Laureate of San Francisco Emerita
"There's a brutality to history, to honesty, to truth, a stripped down power that doesn't allow much room for pretense and forgiveness. But there is also a beauty that beams hope. Monarch by Heather Bourbeau is such a record, a history of us distilled to a raw violence that comes through the record keeping done by a poet, an artist. I couldn't feel the final page of the book because a work like this is not meant to wrap up, but to trigger beginnings of reckonings, of repentance, of a collective desire to hope for a better legacy for human kind. It's such a book of loud screams and silent introspection. Bourbeau has shared with us something of incredible power."
-Chiwan Choi, author of my name is wolf
"Monarch is a stunning poetry collection. Using her keen, unsparing eye, author Heather Bourbeau combines personal history with regional histories of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The result is a dazzling guide to the past that thrums like a beating heart. I could not stop reading these poems, lingered over every detail and description, from the timelines to the life stories of the known and the unknown; from the cost of a fried grizzly dinner in the title poem to the complicity of shopping mall goers in 'Black Friday' to the pastor's life in 'Fire Balloon' and the lists of detritus after a volcanic eruption or a large gathering such as Burning Man. This book is necessary and important, and should be taught in schools."
-Devi S. Laskar, author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues and Circa
"Like the Western United States itself, Heather Bourbeau's poems are persistently discoverable over successive explorations. Each piece in Monarch is meticulously structured to render one awed and haunted by its simultaneous complexity and accessibility. She mines the fragilities and inflexible elements of the Earth, nature, and human beings themselves with extraordinary grace. The women and men in works such as 'Fire Balloon (Fu-Go)' and 'El Honor de Luis' are evocative tragi-heroes desperately clutching hold to dissipating prayers, dreams deferred. Trees, wind, rock, and dirt are strikingly personified as vividly as any human character in literature, breathing life, destruction, and balance into dizzying ecosystems intentionally construed by Bourbeau to haunt long after pages are turned. Monarch is a collection of poetry offering historically-framed sagas filled with varying scope and heart-wrenching emotion, but with careful spareness, dry as a bone."
-Jimmie Briggs, Principal, Skoll Foundation