The Crows of After by Exsanguine Hart
Specimen SandWitch Press (October 2022)
86 pages; $17 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Exsanguine Hart is a scribbler with an obnoxiously pretentious pseudonym living somewhere in Canada with two cats, an assemblage of dolls and a number of dragons. Hart can be found online either doodling on instagram @exsanguine_hart
or lurking on exsanguinehart.com. Their newest collection of poems is The Crows of After.
The Crows of After is a dark poetry collection, and Hart really attempts to expand that horror with some very clever narratives and vibrant images. Take, for example, these lines from the poem “Skin”:
The diners learn to match the moths.
Their lightweight limbs make sounds
like hollow drums against the floor. They spread
their dirty wings across the walls, in sync with me.
The rolling iambs of these lines as well as the tight sound — check out the flow of laterals in “learn…lightweight limbs…hollow…floor” and how they’re carefully spread across the three lines — really makes for a luscious read.
One cannot discuss The Crows of After without discussing the art and the hybrid pieces in this collection. There are many examples, but the piece on page six with the elongated figure against a swampy, murky background and the poem superimposed over a digital shape. The whole tone of the piece is dark and murky, and it’s pieces like this that make The Crows of After a standout collection.
Overall, Exsanguine Hart has created a very strong collection with The Crows of After. When these poems are strongest, Hart’s imagery and lyricism soar and propel horror poetry to new avenues and areas. The art further amplifies the potency of these poems. Fans of horror poetry will thoroughly enjoy The Crows of After.