Reviews > Published on January 13th, 2015

Bookshots: 'Fearworms: Selected Poems' by Robert Payne Cabeen

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Fearworms: Selected Poems

Who wrote it?

Robert Payne Cabeen, a "screenwriter, artist and purveyor of narrative horror poetry." 

Plot in a box:

The whole experience has an Ed Woodian feel about it, a pulpy joy exuding from every B-movie-esque page

Here we have a collection of horror stories told predominately via rhyming couplets, because nothing is scarier than bad poetry.

Invent a new title for this book:

Poets and Other Nightmare People: An Illustrated Journey into Insanity

Read this if you like:

I can honestly say that I have never once come across a book quite like this, but if you're a fan of horror in general, then you'll probably get a kick out of this collection.

Meet the book's lead(s):

A guy who stumbles upon a "Psycho-Killer Cannibal Clown Convention"; a dude who has to shoot his hot zombie girlfriend; a man abducted by a mad doctor who cuts people up and sews them back together; a down-on-his-luck android in love; another guy who stumbles upon cannibals, except this time the guy's a cop; Krampus.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Ryan Reynolds; Ryan Reynolds; Ryan Reynolds; Jared Leto; Ryan Reynolds as a cop; Krampus.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Oh HELL no.

What was your favorite sentence?

But soon, they sensed they'd gone too far
And did a heartless thing.
They passed android suppression laws,
And now, I cannot sing.

The Verdict:

Holy shit. First things first: the poetry is terrible. We need to get that out of the way, both because a) this is technically a book of poetry and b) that doesn't matter in the least. I'm not entirely convinced that the poetry is actually supposed to be any good. Almost all of the poems follow a generic abab rhyme scheme and include countless non sequiturs and forced rhymes to keep up the flow. Honestly, though, who cares? This book is about 100 pages of hilarious horror awesomeness, images included. Cabeen is both artist and author here, and each poem comes with at least one page of illustrations. These range from the vaguely mysterious to the downright disgusting, matching the content of the poems. In all there are a dozen narratives, each similarly ranged from eerie to torture porn, all told in verse.

I'm explaining the construction of the book more than I usually do, but only because I'm at a bit of a loss for words here. There is no denying that these poems are not what anyone would traditionally consider Good Poems, but they're fun and gory and marry horror, poetry, and graphic novels in a really exciting and playful way. As the introduction promises, "if you read these poems out loud, you will have fun." It's true. The whole experience has an Ed Woodian feel about it, a pulpy joy exuding from every B-movie-esque page. I'm just making up words at this point, because there's no other way to explain how this book can be so good and so bad at the same time. It's not like those Bad Movie Night movies really, good because it's bad. The stories are interesting, the horror aspects are abundantly present, and the art is (mostly) gorgeous, leaving me with the notion that the poetry was almost an afterthought, merely a vehicle for these cannibalistic nightmares, a secondary concern for anyone who would really appreciate this collection in the first place. Traditionally, fans of horror have not always been sticklers for supposed High Art; they tend to enjoy stories most when they get right to the bloody point, preferably with a few twists, turns, and dismemberments along the way. That's exactly what Fearworms is all about: slicing, dicing, and stringing ears on a necklace. If you like poetry, whatever. If you're into comic books, sure, great. This book is for horror fans, and in that respect it does not disappoint.

You can purchase FEARWORMS directly from Fanboy Comics

About the author

Brian McGackin is the author of BROETRY (Quirk Books, 2011). He has a BA from Emerson College in Something Completely Unrelated To His Life Right Now, and a Masters in Poetry from USC. He enjoys Guinness, comic books, and Bruce Willis movies.

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