Poetry News

The Collagist Reviews Cassandra Troyan's Throne of Blood

By Harriet Staff

Cassandra Troyan

Cassandra Troyan's Throne of Blood messes with genre, and likewise, Christopher Higgs's review at the Collagist gets downright messy with the book (in the most wonderful and praising way possible). Higgs opens his review by writing:

Cassandra Troyan's Throne of Blood deterritorializes genre in the most beautifully messy manner imaginable. It simultaneously behaves like fiction, nonfiction, poetry, sci-fi, splatter punk, gorecore, sixth wave, blinker freak, and unapologetic porn. It mutates, squirms, quivers, convulses, never settles down, never behaves, and never offers respite for the reader.

The lusciously disgusting opening passage, which modulates between prose and numbered poetic lines,

He's sucking the marrow out of a girl's femur so there's enough space to fuck it. It's really too hot for it to be spring.

2. I'm a little dry

evokes a very Bluebeard-esque scenario of chopped up girls dangling from meat hooks. By the fourth page, the text opens up or rather sinks itself in mud as words begin to come unglued from their sentences:

The mud gets so
and tight
on my chest
pushing it to explosion
my nose filling
with the sandy












                        almost see




            my bed

Words then begin to trickle like blood droplets across five pages, visually conveying the sensation of falling to the point where one page houses only the word "down," before coagulating again into prosaic imagery of fucking, choking, gargling, howling, and the suggestion of immanent death.

And this is merely the PREAMBLE.

That's quite a start! Higgs goes on to examine the ontological questions TOB raises, and positions it forwards:

A quizzical predicament, which only becomes more beautifully confusing as our reading progresses. "If you love someone," page forty stares back at me, "fuck the world. / I don't believe in love because it is real / And I am tethered to the hope through spit." So, in this complicated calculus Troyan creates the idea of aliveness equating with fakeness, and deadness equating with realness. Love is real, and therefore dead. Ergo, loving someone is akin to worshiping death. Indeed, the seething lava of Hades seems to beckon us from every page of this book. The drunken Dionysian jubilee Troyan parades before us entices us to succumb to the forever middle, the before and after that tricks us into believing in the existence of a now: the uncertain, unstable, violent thrashing of existence from moment to moment, alone, afraid, in the dark, surrounded by wolves snarling and snapping at our frail bodies like they are merely juicy slices of meat.

"The real," she tells us, "must be fictionalized in order to be thought." This is the title running along the left-hand margin of page seventy. The question Throne of Blood seems interested in provoking is not the basic ontological question, "what does it mean to be," but rather a more rabidly black and potently nihilistic question: who gives a fuck about being? Or, put in the form of a statement rather than a question: to be is not to be, forget the question.

It's a wild read. Jump over to read the rest.

Originally Published: July 15th, 2013