In an era of rising nationalism and geopolitical instability, Megan Fernandes’s Good Boys offers a complex portrait of messy feminist rage, negotiations with race and travel, and existential dread in the Anthropocene. The collection follows a restless, nervy, cosmically abandoned speaker failing at the aspirational markers of adulthood as she flips from city to city, from enchantment to disgust, always reemerging—just barely—on the trains and bridges and bar stools of New York City. A child of the Indian Ocean diaspora, Fernandes enacts the humor and devastation of what it means to exist as a body of contradictions. Her interpretations are muddied. Her feminism is accusatory, messy. Her homelands are theoretical and rootless. The poet converses with goats and throws a fit at a tarot reading; she loves the intimacy of strangers during turbulent plane rides and has dark fantasies about the “hydrogen fruit” of nuclear fallout. Ultimately, these poems possess an affection for the doomed: false beloveds, the hounded earth, civilizations intent on their own ruin. Fernandes skillfully interrogates where to put our fury and, more importantly, where to direct our mercy.
About the Author
Megan Fernandes is a writer living in New York City. She is the author of The Kingdom and After (Tightrope Books 2015). Her work has been published in The New Yorker, Tin House, Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Chicago Review, Boston Review, Rattle, Pank, The Common, Guernica, the Academy of American Poets, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA in poetry from Boston University.
Good Boys is a firecracker book full of sharp, imaginative, heart-full poems about tarot, running in the suburbs, goats, cities, nuclear fallout, and bigger things like identity, family, race, and feminism. If Broad City and Carmen Maria Machado had a poetry baby, it would be Good Boys.
Good Boys speaks to our shared knowledge that things cannot go on as they are and yet, day by day, we are going on. Fernandes explores what it feels like to live a life organized by risk, the ordinary wagers and debts we make in our attachments to the people, places, and ideas that we love, our promises to ourselves and others: 'The way we bet. What we gamble with.' Being good is one way of managing risk. But it also allows us to ignore the ways in which our world is built on theft—the piracies of whiteness, a sense of entitlement to someone else’s body or someone else’s country. . . . The poems demonstrate an intelligent handling of form, disrupting convenient distinctions between the neatness of intellect and the chaos of feeling.
Fernandes’s debut collection, The Kingdom and After (Tightrope Books, 2015), introduced us to her voice as both blunt truth-teller and measured verse-architect. In Good Boys, her new collection published last month from Tin House Books, she plunges back into family, relationships, and identity—then explores the lens itself through which she sees and thinks about her world. Her anger and agitation speak so clearly, so compellingly, that we find ourselves reading her poems on the edge of unease: What will happen next? Is this going to hurt? Will she soothe us? And she does, with great care and love.
This tremendous collection of poems centers feminism, racism, and rage in all its imperfections, contradictions and candor.
The poetry of Megan Fernandes gives me courage to get up another day and fight the patriarchy & racist nationalism. Her limitless imagination and beautiful, lyrical, powerful lines are worth fighting for. Everyone should give this book to someone they love, and everyone should love someone enough to give them this book. — Brenda Shaughnessy, author of The Octopus Museum
If there is no ethical consumption under late capitalism, our job is to figure out how to move through this world while causing it the least harm. 'I like when the choices are both ugly,' Megan Fernandes writes in Good Boys, and then she shows us: rocks and hard places, guns and snowbanks, there and here. It’s a staggering text—ferocious, vulnerable, funny, ambitious, and deeply rigorous. What can a poet do for people, for a planet, literally dying of human greed? Fernandes answers: 'I map / the storms // of the whole world.'
— Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf
'What I learned from you is how/not to be a body,' Megan Fernandes asserts in her evocatively beautiful collection Good Boys, musing in a later poem, 'How some of us laugh while hunted.' These are poems of haunting and hunting, of bodies that are remade in different cities, of family and its legacy, of immigration and what it takes from us. The collection traverses time and place, meditating on the ways love shatters and recreates us all, particularly when it intersects with being othered. Fernandes writes compellingly of the dislocation that comes with migration: 'My daddy is not a thing like your daddy,' she says. 'Our house was not a thing like your house.' Alike or not, this house of poems contains tremendous light.
— Hala Alyan, author of The Twenty-Ninth Year
Magnificent in its tumultuous yet savvy voicings, its pain transformed into cadence, its personal yet generous stagings of self. — Rosanna Warren, author of So Forth