Friday, June 4, 2010

Stabbed in Stanzas Book Review: Savage Menace and Other Poems of Horror by Richard L. Tierney

Savage Menace and Other Poems of Horror
Richard L. Tierney
Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

Richard Tierney combines terror and fantasy in rhyme in his latest book, Savage Menace and Other Poems of Horror, published by P’rea Press in Sidney, Australia. This collection includes his poems from 1961 through 2009 and is divided into four sections, ‘Things of Menace and Dread: a fear cycle’, ‘A Mask of Thalia: a humorous cycle’, ‘The Doom of Hyboria: a poetry cycle’, and ‘One for the Road: a lasting cycle, and a farewell’.
Common themes in the collection include kings, graves, and fantastical beasts. The rhymes are well-done most of the time, but can be grating at times for a modern reader used to free verse. His more outstanding work delves into recent history. An outstanding speculative poem is “Apocalypse”. The first verse is as follows:
I stood upon a vast and crimson plain
And saw before me, like a monstrous sea,
A moiling tide of clamor, hate and pain—
The swell of humankind’s fecundity.
Then forth from Doom’s own darksome citadel
I saw the Horsemen of impending fate—
War, Famine, Plague and Death—burst through the Gate
And thunder from the echoing halls of Hell . . .
The words flow and his use of rhyme here is reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe. His utilization of consonance is superb.
However, the humorous section does not seem to fit well with the other poems, in my opinion. For many there are notes at the bottom saying the poem should be read using common tunes, something you wouldn’t expect from a master poet. The works in the section are corny and makes the reader want to stop reading.
The interior art by Andrew McKiernan is outstanding. He illustrates certain poems with great detail and each picture adds to the foreboding of the poem.
Both fans newcomers to Richard L. Tierney should pick up this book. It’s a good introduction to a great twentieth century poet.

-Karen L. Newman