Some books you read before placing on a shelf. Others, upon completing, you award someone else to enjoy. The best works, though, achieve the curious and uncommon phenomenon of adherence; they stick with you.
I Do Everything I’m Told, the new poetry collection from Megan Fernandes, is just such a book. So was Good Boys, her collection published in 2020.
These are titles you keep at the ready to better assist continually returning to pages and passages that, for various and legitimate reasons, resonate similar to the confident, slow and sustained ring of a meditation bell. The poems and passages recur within your thinking, conversations and debates, voiced or not.
I suspect Fernandes’ writing possesses such impact because she’s frank and sufficiently bold as to frequently prove vulnerable, tender even. Yet, I often found myself wondering whether she recognizes her own strength and fortitude. Certainly, this is one poet too restless and rebellious to do everything she’s told. Thank goodness for that.
Difficult to effectively replicate—and I, an English major with 30 years’ writing experience, know because I’ve tried—she recalls myriad moments observed from within the activities, crises and exhilarations of daily life. I Do What I’m Told is particularly insistent collecting scenes, some mundane others significant, experienced with different friends and partners from an intriguing variety of locations. From Los Angeles to Lisbon, she plants mental seeds within sonnets that themselves build upon one another, adapt and reappear in matured, modified forms.
Because Fernandes is so willing to record genuinely interior conflicts within her poems, the topics percolate within (as Gabrielle Bates describes within her poem When Her Second Horn, The Only Horn She Has Left) “the basket of bone” where we process, in concert with our hearts, emotions and events seeking security, meaning and fulfillment.
Fernandes does this well. Despite the sonnets’ peripatetic nature, their genuine energy and vulnerability reveal the fierce constitution needed to survive and, dare we but hope, thrive within the chaotic and occasionally senselessly absurd landscapes we all navigate.
These poems and passages remain with you because they speak to truths we all likely experience, to some degree, but lack the vocabulary, expertise or patience to articulate for ourselves. That alone is much to process, so don’t take my word for it. Check out Good Boys, available now, or I Do Everything I’m Told, on sale June 20th.