What does survival mean? In Millennial Roost, life after trauma is explored though a mixture of poems and letters addressed to a mysterious Mr. Hen. Through this epistolary form Dustin Pearson challenges the tensions between confession and artifice, and frankness and obfuscation, as well as the terrible weight of secrets. These are poems that question everything, marking a search for identity in the face of the past with close examinations of sexuality, gender, metamorphosis and honesty, as well as the capability of poetry to express this fractured odyssey. Precisely observed, funny and multi-faceted, this is an eagerly-awaited debut collection.
Dustin Pearson’s debut collection, Millennial Roost, is exemplary of lyric alchemy at its most powerful. In Pearson’s hands, the stunning story of a young man’s fateful encounter with someone he dubs both “chicken and monster,” who threatens his very being, is transformed into parable by his capacity to name his enemy. “I think I’ll call him Mr. Hen,” he says simply, casting cowardice as the evil heart of predation. His ability, as it turns out, is the ancient power of the poet-shaman. In Millennial Roost, Pearson alchemizes the lead of trauma into the gold of song.
– Cynthia Hogue, author of In June the Labyrinth
The poems in Millennial Roost are devastating. In a series of epistles, the speaker addresses Mr. Hen, an allegorical predator, in order to defy and mock and query and dismiss him. “I survive you,” the speaker says. This is a phenomenal debut.
– Jillian Weise, author of The Book of Goodbyes
Sometimes there is a bravery of lyric content and language in a first book that must be accompanied by brilliant states of mind and fierce imagination. Millennial Roost is best described in these terms. Though, of course, Pearson surprises us at most every turn with an element of happiness, clearly rooted in a vivid childhood. What a startling and original work Dustin Pearson has given us. This is a great book.
– Norman Dubie, author of The Quotations of Bone
Humor and terror bind themselves to one another in this wonderfully odd debut by Dustin Pearson. As much as these poems are anxious and anguished—“Make them describe it end to end”—they are also tender and redemptive—“I’ve been waiting for you/and this closeness we wouldn’t abuse.” But Millennial Roost is never apologetic in its truth-telling or its disappointment at a world that goes on once such awful truths are told. How do we live through (and live on!) after violation? Pearson’s surrealist vision is itself a metaphor for the lie that physical resilience saves us from mental anguish. This is a beautifully necessary book.
– Jericho Brown, author of The New Testament