Release Date: August 20, 2021
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Can You Sign My Tentacle?
by Brandon O'Brien
Cthulhu meets hip-hop in this book of horror poems that flips the eldritch genre upside down. Lovecraftian-inspired nightmares are reversed as O'Brien asks readers to see Blackness as radically significant. Can You Sign My Tentacle? explores the monsters we know and the ones that hide behind racism, sexism, and violence, resulting in poems that are both comic and cosmic.
About the Author
Brandon O’Brien is a writer, performance poet, teaching artist and game designer from Trinidad and Tobago. His work has been shortlisted for the 2014 Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing, the 2014 and 2015 Small Axe Literary Competitions, and the inaugural Ignyte Award for Best Speculative Poetry. His work is published in Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, Reckoning, and New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, among others. He is the former Poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction.
Praise for Can You Sign My Tentacle?
"Brandon O’Brien pulls no punches in this brazen collection of poetry leaking with blood and duality, autographs and strangers in lost timelines, motherless choirs humming out of mango roots, thresholds where hope is a phoenix, and bookstores whose owners are an infinity." --Blake Curran in Aurealis #147
"This debut poetry chapbook is tired of old tropes. Can You Sign My Tentacle? animates our anthropocene’s Black joy and resistance against the ghoulish spectres of racism: a slew of institutional evils is called to account, dragged into the light of confessional verse. In poems as suited to page interpretation as oral performance, Brandon O’Brien populates each realm of the work’s imagined or real multiverse with brave vulnerability: in “the lagahoo speaks for itself”, our title character angrily declaims, “I know the scent of every dead girl’s close male relatives / I could sense the sour of trigger fingers / in the alleys at the edges of hotspots.” As with the best speculative writing, the convergence of the worlds we imagine and the world we inhabit becomes preternaturally real, borders of certainty and illusion blending to create space: and this realm, the poems say, belongs to Blackness." --Caribbean Beat Magazine
"Even if you aren’t familiar with anything related to Cthulhu, Black and other marginalized readers of color will find at least one poem that resonates with them. Every Black person has a few moments in their life when they have been Othered by forces within and without. Since these poems magnify that too literal monstrous proportions, they will make the reader examine themselves in all their glory and flaws." --Black Sci-Fi
"This book is the perfect take for people who enjoy the cosmic horror genre but want to see it be more than just tired old stories." --Unruly Cats
"Brandon O’Brien’s Can You Sign My Tentacle reads as a heady mashup of Black pop culture, geekdom and an homage to Caribbean musicology and lore. With such alluring titles as “Cthulhu Asks for Kendrick Lamar’s Autograph” to “The Metaphysics of a Wine,” O’Brien interweaves humor, politics, beats, rhymes and bacchanal with the fantastic and the cosmically horrific—giving us something literary, lyrical and amazingly unique. Allyuh gonna like this!" --P. Djèlí Clark, author of A Master of Djinn
"Can You Sign My Tentacle?" is the black experience in verse with all the beauty, the humor, the terror, and the resilience. Brandon is a song at the intersection of hip hop and horror that challenges the soul and demands to be heard. --Maurice Broaddus, author of Pimp My Airship and Buffalo Soldier
Brandon O’Brien’s Can You Sign My Tentacle? is the perfect pairing I didn’t know I needed. Drawing on eldritch and hip hop influences, O’Brien melds the two with a skilled hand, incorporating the best of both to speak on racism, family, misogyny, climate change, and more--much of it heartbreaking, all of it true. Reading like an album, it takes you on a journey as he remixes topics and revisits themes. Can You Sign My Tentacle? booms, whispers, and everything in-between, and O’Brien perfectly sticks the landing, with the last line of the collection lingering for days afterward. —Jordan Hirsch
Dreamlike, visceral, and emotionally moving. An intoxicating poetic journey and a heartbreaking ode casting your fave hip-hop artists juxtaposed with chilling and beautiful imagery through the haunting lens of tangible pain, loss, grief and love. --Tlotlo Tsamaase, author of The Silence of the Wilting Skin
“All the poems in O’Brien’s collection, like tracks in a poetic album: entertains, amuses, enlightens and inspires. More than anything else, his Author’s Note is the perfect ending for this Album of the Year for me, sharing the poet’s journey in the realm of science fiction, the impact of Cthulhu mythos and the relationship to Blackness & racism. I will sign any tentacles he waves in my direction.” —Linda D. Addison, award-winning author, HWA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and SFPA Grand Master.
Brandon O’Brien’s Can You Sign My Tentacle? is both a celebration and lyrical interrogation of the body monster politic. Laying bare the grotesque rhetoric, it maps out the capacity of social love, historical memory and summons the tenacity of hope. --Monique Quintana, Author of Cenote City (Clash Books, 2019)
Can You Sign My Tentacle? is a book of cosmic horror poems that takes the genre and its racist roots and flips it. The description reads “Lovecraftian-inspired nightmares are reversed as O’Brien asks readers to see Blackness as radically significant.” This refers to the significance of continuing to struggle and survive against huge structures of power trying to destroy them. The idea seems to be that the horrors aren’t nearly as awe-inspiring as the struggle. Imagine, if you will, a human standing before Cthulhu shouting “I’m still here, you big slimy fuck!” --Land of Chel