Meaningless Cycles in a Vicious Glass Prison: Songs of Death and Love by Anton Cancre
Dragon’s Roost Press (October 2020)
114 pages, $9.99 Paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
In Meaningless Cycles in a Vicious Glass Prison: Songs of Death and Love, Anton Cancre creates scenes of death and works to capture them in short, poignant poems. Cancre works within various horror tropes but does his best to keep the ideas fresh and visceral for the reader. This is an interesting collection, and while the poetry is inconsistent at times, fans of horror poetry will enjoy perusing it.
Meaningless Cycles in a Vicious Glass Prison: Songs of Death and Love focuses a lot on the death part of the equation. Most of the opening poems deal with zombies of one sort or another. Cancre clearly knows the genre well, referencing cult films like Cemetery Man, and he also knows that humor parallels horror well, as in his poem “Not Too Much to Ask.” Cancre also touches on the religious aspects of horror, which is something few horror poets deal with. Poems like “7th Day Revenants” and “Saint Frances Delamorte” touch upon religious subjects while, of course, referring back to cult horror films as well. Anton Cancre knows his horror tropes and uses them well throughout this collection.
At times, however, the poetic craft is inconsistent. Take, for instance, the poem “Past This Tunnel, the Rest of the World,” which opens with the lines:
It’s snowing here again. Great,
white, plastic chunks falling
from the concave sky and here
we sit on the fractured edge
of the world, eyeballing our own
Reflections across the gulf,
These lines aren’t horrible, but they’re adjective heavy and clunky. A lot of Cancre’s work in this book is like this, which makes for an uneven read. However, there are times when his lines are quite honed and poignant:
I emerged, covered in crimson
mucus and yelling out in terror
at the cold expanse of it all,
has drawn me incrementally
here to this soil, lording over
my buried dominion, bathed
Here the adjectives word to enhance the poem and create a uniqueness that serves the work. This clearly shows Cancre’s promise as a poet, and leaves the readers wanting more.
While Meaningless Cycles in a Vicious Glass Prison: Songs of Death and Love might read like an uneven and under-curated collection of poems, there’s enough decent work here that a fan of horror poetry will enjoy this collection. Furthermore, the few standout poems really shine and show Cancre’s potential as a powerful horror poet. Overal, it’s a collection worth pursuing.