A Route Obscure and Lonely by LindaAnn LoSchiavo
The Wapshott Press (December 2019)
60 pages, $7.50 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
A Route Obscure and Lonely is a unique artifact in horror poetry. It’s primarily in blank verse, and while formal horror poetry isn’t rare, what makes LindaAnn LoSchiavo’s poetry unique is that she doesn’t let the form control her poems. While many formalist horror poets fall back on outdated tropes and clichés in their writing, LoSchiavo is able to use those tools and make a very rhythmic poem, while also using modern ideas and imagery to update her poems to 21st century pieces.
LoSchiavo seems primarily concerned with ghosts and other paranormal topics. The opening poem, “Houseguest,” deals with a cancer patient struggling against the spectre of Death:
A phantom shape. Infernal company,
Omniscient brakeman, timer in cold hands,
LoSchiavo isn’t tapping into new imagery, of course, but the scene she paints is fresh with it’s mentions of oxygen feeds and IV tubes. This is clearly a modern haunting, and Death is eagerly waiting to snatch this patient.
However, LoSchiavo doesn’t limit herself to only ghosts and hauntings. Poems like “Vulcan and Venus” are, while not iconic horror, certainly steeped in dark plots of revenge, where in Vulcan will “create Arrows,/equipping hands too young to have/A conscience. Forger Vulcan tools revenge.” LoSchiavo’s retelling of the myth is well-crafted in her trademark free verse, but gives a darker plot to the story which horror fans will enjoy.
If anything can be said to be problematic about LoSchiavo’s work, it’s the very form which she has made her own. The blank verse is well-crafted, but often becomes tedious after too many pages, so it’s best to enjoy this book slowly over time instead of trying to rush through it as one would a novel or even narrative free verse poems. But sipped slowly, this book is a dark and heady vintage that is sure to intoxicate readers. LindaAnn LoSchiavo’s A Route Obscure and Lonely is a really strong collection and horror poetry fans will really enjoy it.