Swan Songs of Cygnus: The Weight of Black Holes
Swan Songs of Cygnus: The Weight of Black Holes by Vincent Hollow is the story of one man’s journey. Believing that Lucy, his lost love is waiting for him, he plans a mission to the distant black hole of Cygnus A. This astronaut must undergo a physical transformation, including the implant of artificial intelligence (AI) into his ocular nerve. The AI, his only companion, helps guide and reassure the explorer as well as provide valuable information on the celestial sights along the way.
There are many tales, myths, and stories of lovers going through extraordinary means to be reunited with those who died. Hollow’s poems are reminiscent of the voyage that Orpheus takes to be reunited with Eurydice in the classical Greek myth of lost love and tragic fates. The poet’s River Styx is the Milky Way and Charon is the AI embedded in the astronaut’s eye.
What makes this book unique is that Hollow uses poetry to weave his interstellar saga. His poems are of love, loss, and journeys. They are also about moons and planets, nebulas, and black holes. As the spacecraft travels, the astronaut sleeps. We get to experience the dreams and nightmares of our somewhat intrepid traveler. Hollow cleverly borrows lines from some of the most memorable poems by Robert Frost, Edgar Allen Poe, and William Shakespeare and incorporates them into his poems.
Hollow shows loss through his poems in several ways. From “Visiting Hours II”:
“the flowers bow their heads
shedding their faces
crumbling on the window sill
their bones and thorns.”
This is more than just a book of poems. In the conversations between the astronaut and his AI companion, there is a lot of relevant information given about the planets of our solar system and the celestial anomalies beyond. I enjoyed the little snippets of knowledge provided about the nebulas of the Milky Way.
Along with the poetry, the design is attractive. The cover art by Tom Nicosia along with the graphics and dreamscapes by Shawn Mahoney and Soks Gemma adds to the overall experience. Even as the book enters the blackness and emerges into the light, like abstract art, the negative space is as meaningful as the filled spaces.
This book is for anyone who has looked into the night sky and felt love. Anyone who has experienced unimaginable loss may find solace in these pages. Ironically, poetry has always served this purpose; being immersed in someone else’s musings about loneliness and longing may help to make some feel less alone.
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