Some people are like monarch butterflies—solitary by nature, on a passionate search for somewhere. Critically acclaimed songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews presents her first poetry collection.
This poetry collection reads like a transformation, me, the narrator, being the figurative Old Monarch. Documenting this journey, the book is separated into three sections, "Sonoran Milkweed," "Longing In Flight," and "Eucalyptus Tree (My Arrival to Rest)."
In the first stage of my journey, I explore my childhood in Arizona, and the naive assumptions of youth. At this stage in my journey, I am impressionable, seeing the world with all its nuances for the first time. Through the landscape of the Sonoran Desert, I explore some dark family dynamics and what a child sees. Several characters turn up in the early poems including my cowboy grandpa, and the single mother who raised me, despite many forthcomings. The early poems also explore my desire to see a brighter world of possibility beyond the dusty desert island, and see humans more clearly within the confounds of discovery.
In the second stage, I have left home. I am falling in love for the first time, as I become a young woman.
Finally, the last stage is the old monarch's arrival to the garden. There are a lot of metaphysical and philosophical poems in this section. I arrive at the figurative garden, and I finally understand the journey at the edge of my life. There are a lot of poems in the context of a garden here, accepting mortality and the ever-changing world. These are meant to be wise old woman poems.
"...many of her [Andews's] poems read like the country song of my dreams." (Goodreads)
"This collection is relatable not because Andrews’ experiences, family circumstances, or geographical influences are necessarily common, but because she places her experience(s) so close to us—in relation to the reader, in skin-to-skin proximity. Storytelling is a craft long perfected by musicians, matriarchs, heroes. Old Monarch very much taps into the folklores of the American frontier, but its motivation diverges from these stereotypically male-driven stories...the stories being told in this collection are not of victory, conquest or horror, but of self-discovery and growth—more pedagogical in nature than as entertainment. As the protagonist and narrator, Andrews charts her life and the lineage of women and loved ones who shaped her, mixing the storyteller tone with that of the oracle." (Cleveland Book Review)