David James Brock
96 pages | ISBN 978-1-928088-55-4
Ten-Headed Alien draws from sci-fi and poli-sci, prog rock and politics, climate fiction and ancient mythology to create poems that are at once global and personal. The opening sections of the book take the reader on a harrowing sea-to-sky epic, from a drunken plane crash in the BC interior to the quiet beaches of Crete. Mythological creatures battle for the attention of an inverted mermaid, bionic pigeons flee their creators, barflies conjure soulmates, balloon farms exist on the moon and pigs, of course, fly. From Lake Nipissing to the moons of Jupiter, these poems travel around the world (and off it) united by the language of human fragility, and a sense of the body as engineered, temporary and exquisitely sad.
The book’s final section brings an uncanny ten-headed alien to Earth and the apocalypse that unfolds is complex and devastating. Ten-Headed Alien, broad in scope, revels in strange, protean imagery to explore the swamps between our natural and technological worlds.
“Brock’s book is a sophisticated monster. This is war poetry that white-knuckles the horror story of normal life, where the most human thing about a robot is its lack of function. Here, language is a junkyard drum set of evil sounds, let loose in pursuit of an enemy half-machinic, half-mythic. Success is mutually assured destruction.”
– Linda Besner, author of Feel Happier in Nine Seconds
“David James Brock is the vital, urgent and mesmerizing maestro of the breakdown. His voices – brimming with acuity, wit and imagination – chart the frightening and inexorable breaking down of our times. Ten-Headed Alien documents the struggle for coherence and connection in the moments where spasm meets dance, where nightmare bleeds into vision, where we encounter the monster of our history and where the fertile ruins of the present are surveyed from the ruins of the future.”
– Daniel Scott Tysdal, author of Fauxccasional Poems
“With a sinister exuberance, Brock’s poems reveal human failure, vulnerability and hubris. There’s a tingle of glee in the details of humanity’s demise, and a pull to question our complicity in the ruin of the world. Ten-Headed Alien contains poems of unease, and of familiarity, and in them we are all a little monstrous.”
– Dina del Bucchia, author of Don’t Tell Me What to Do
3 short reviews: Mac, Hansen, Brock (Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews, 23/06/2018)
"[Brock's] Ten Headed Alien proved to be an acid extravaganza from a boy’s jizz of a Bradberian daydream where monsters are women with heads of fish, or flatbeds of pigs, or little punks or The Super Duper. Lines are tentacled and cut with robotic voices, repetitions, glossalia...Definitely not a common perambulation through the apocalypse."
Beautiful Books: Ten-Headed Alien (All Lit Up, 28/05/2018)
"And then there’s the wicked cover. The book’s cover evokes many of the poems within. A scorched earth devoid of nutrients, creatures born in hydrothermal vents thriving in a nuclear winter, what was maybe once a vacation spot, now a danger zone. Many of the poems have characters that find themselves alone, either physically [...] or emotionally[...]."
"I Write to Make Sense of Worries" David James Brock on Finding the Calm in Poetry (Open Book, 13/04/2018)
"One thing that draws me to poetry is that momentary spark from an unlikely millisecond: hearing a piece of music in the perfect place, a cheese-induced nightmare, two pit bulls in matching bandanas on a subway car."
Spring Preview: Staff Picks (All Lit Up, 01/03/2018)
"Spring is in the air and I am looking forward to some patio time with many of the amazing poetry collections we have to offer this year. It was hard to narrow it down to one, but David James Brock's Ten-Headed Alien promises to be an epic mash-up of sci-fi, prog-rock, politics and myth; everything my little geek heart could ask for. Plus, who could resist that stunning, otherworldly cover? This alien invasion is not to be missed."
12 Canadian poetic works to discover in the first half of 2018 (CBC Books, 06/02/2018)
"Ten-Headed Alien touches on fantasy, science fiction and mythology while always keeping touch with the world we live in. This collection stretches from the fantastic to the ridiculous."
"Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Spring Poetry Preview" (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 05/02/2018)
"David James Brock follows up Everyone is C02 with Ten Headed Alien, whose poems draw from sci-fi and poli-sci, prog rock and politics, climate fiction and ancient mythology."
"What's Your Story?" Final Instalment of the 2017 Obpo Writing Contest Winners: Etobicoke (Open Book, 04/12/2017)
Poem, "Bionic Pigeon Wing on the Roadside."
David James Brock is a playwright, poet and librettist whose plays and operas have been performed in cities across Canada and the UK. He is the winner of the 2011 Herman Voaden Canadian National Playwriting Award for his play Wet. Brock penned the libretto for The Sloans Project (Noise Opera, composer: Gareth Williams), which was most recently performed at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (previous: Glasgow’s 2011 Merchant City Festival, Tapestry New Opera’s 2011/2012 season). Other highlights include Sewing the Earthworm for the Canadian Music Centre Centretracks Program (Toronto, 2015. Composer: Brian Harman); Pretty Boy for the Paul Dresher Ensemble (San Francisco, 2012. Composer: Jack Perla); and the plays Centre of the Universe (Toronto, 2014) and Snow Bride (Toronto, 2014). Brock’s debut poetry collection, Everyone is CO2, was released by Wolsak & Wynn in spring 2014. He is co-creator of Breath Cycle, a multimedia operatic song cycle developed with cystic fibrosis patients that was nominated for a 2014 Royal Philharmonic Society Award. He lives in Toronto. Visit his website, www.davidjamesbrock.com, and follow him on Twitter @davidjamesbrock.
Everyone is CO2 (2014)