Dazzling collection of masques from Manitoba Book of the Year– and Walrus Poetry Prize–winning author.
Monologue Dogs is a series of contemporary dramatic monologues. Every “voice” has its own imagined rhythm and nuances of poetic speech that are as vibrant, wayward, mournful, errant, or unruly as the characters who speak. Setting the lyric against street argot, archaic language against deflating or ironic feints, metaphors against declarative sentences, the elegiac against the ribald, classical or literary allusions against anachronistic references, these monologues reflect our own disordered subjectivities. In the words of Molly Peacock: “Read her for a fresh, contemporary and knowing sensibility—not to mention an unforgettable sense of humour.”
“Monologue Dogs is Méira Cook’s dazzling 21st-century garden of un-Eden, where unions and betrayals abound. Here Cook exercises her powerhouse imagination and sass to make poems from post-prandial apple bites of wisdom. With her rich, warm linguistic textures she resuscitates archetypal myths and modern voices ranging from Eve to Persephone, Gepetto to Gretl, even Freud to Woolf. Read her for a fresh, contemporary, and knowing sensibility—not to mention an unforgettable sense of humor. Again Méira Cook proves herself to be one of Canada’s most compelling poets. ” Molly Peacock
“In Monologue Dogs Méira Cook traverses myth, history, and the present day with a clear lyric voice that fuses the classical, the modern, and the postmodern. These are poems to read and reread–aloud, if possible–with growing pleasure and admiration.” Steven Heighton
Monologue Dogs starts on a sharp note with the poem “The Devil’s Advocate” and Méira Cook’s brilliant turn of phrase: “My client sends his regrets. He is busy / falling through blank verse for all eternity.” […] Cook manages to avoid being sentimental while still writing longingly about the past and childhood. Instead, her poetry bites down on nostalgia with a violently candid wit. While she references old stories and folktales (Hansel and Gretel, Adam and Eve) Cook’s phrasing is still completely original: “my mother blooms like the stars you see / when you ram into a tree, a kiss, / old bony inevitability.” Monologue Dogs is not, as its title suggests, uni-voiced, but actually a dialogue between characters, stories, and memories. The story of Geppetto and Pinocchio is contrasted with and compared to the relationship between Virginia and Leonard Woolf, a tie that makes no sense at all and, at the same time, perfect sense in its madness. Cook uses Monologue Dogs as a way to make us question what we believe, whether we can believe what we hear, and whether our beliefs are ever heard. “I thought God would hear. / I knew the neighbours wouldn’t.” CV2 Magazine
“Monologue Dogs proffers a chorus of voices that do not always harmonize but often, instead, revel in discord, in range, in open-ended and genuinely curious conversation. This collection is a delightful confusion of carefully-wrought voices.”Read full review David Huebert, The Rusty Toque
“In this dazzling collection of dramatic monologues, Cook embodies a range of voices — mythic, biblical, contemporary — with characteristic dexterity and brio. From the Devil’s lawyer to Hansel and Gretel, from King Lear in Africa to Virginia Woolf, Monologue Dogs is by turns irreverent, poignant, and knife-sharp. Cook gives us the perfect book for this ‘mongrel century’ and never hits a false note.” Jury’s statement from 2016 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award
“… Cook’s strangest detours can take us from wit to vision and back again. Far from the canned whimsy of too much contemporary poetry, Cook’s writing is not only funny, but seriously strange. As her lines reel giddily between laughter, violence, grief, and desire, the reader is made to feel at once welcome and out of place, like a houseguest caught in the midst of a family dispute in a foreign language, unable to distinguish clearly between love and suppressed menace. Part of what encourages us to linger is sound; wordplay and assonance help bind these lines together, but so do rhythmical patterns that, without being strictly metered, clearly have pentameter lodged in their inner ear. These are, as the book’s title suggests, poems to read out loud.” Paul Franz, The Malahat Review Read full review
“This exemplifies what Cook does so well throughout Monologue Dogs: it reimagines source material to create surprising and engaging work.” Alexandra Pasian, Matrix Read full review
“Interestingly though, the monologues delivered by these familiar figures work to defamiliarize them. As a result we are made to experience their significance anew. Renewal and recovery are underlying themes in this volume, which in every line demonstrate the mind’s capacity to view the world in a fresh and meaningful way.” Dean Steadman, Arc Read full review
“Ultimately, Monologue Dogs proves a challenging and enduring collection that deserves to be read and reread with the same amount of rigour that Cook consistently demonstrates in her own poetic craft.” Kyle Kinaschuk, Canadian Literature Read full review
“The Devil’s Advocate,” winner of 2012 Walrus Poetry Prize
“The Marriage Sonnets,” winner of 2013 Arc Magazine Editor’s Choice Award
Monologue Dogs nominated for the 2016 McNally Robinson Book of the Year
“In this dazzling collection of dramatic monologues, Cook embodies a range of voices — mythic, biblical, contemporary — with characteristic dexterity and brio. From the Devil’s lawyer to Hansel and Gretel, from King Lear in Africa to Virginia Woolf, Monologue Dogs is by turns irreverent, poignant, and knife-sharp. Cook gives us the perfect book for this ‘mongrel century’ and never hits a false note.” Jury’s statement from McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award
Hear Méira read from Monologue Dogs at the Winnipeg International Writers Festival. Listen here (from the 4 minute mark)
The Devil’s Advocate
My lords and ladies, gentlemen of the Jury —
when you hear hoofbeats, assume horses, not zebras.
This is true in almost all parts of the world
except the African savannah, where it is safer
to assume zebras. Also eland, giraffes, herds
of this and that. In India, assume cows; in Spain,
bulls, matadors in their sun-blurred hooves.
In Tuscany, angels; in Kingdom-Come, horses again,
pale quartets of Wish You Were Here.
My client sends his regrets. He is busy
falling through blank verse for all eternity, while a mere afternoon
passes its shadow over us. The sun moves from one window
of the courthouse to the next, and then it’s tea time.
One sugar or two? Perhaps a bun. Stretch
and yawn and back we go. I submit
for your perusal, Exhibit A.
This is a map of the world, of God, and of everything.
Above is heaven, below is hell —
the future is to the right, the past is to the left.
My client, in his plea for mercy, wishes me to recall
his salient points. His sense of humour, direction, and yes, style,
his tendency to violent foreshortenings, and that finding
himself irredeemably zebra, he hoofed the streets
of his brawling, captious nature, kicking
up dust and all the limping platitudes
of this earth, our home. They tell you dreams
don’t come true. But they never tell you how.