« Cover / Jack Ketchum | Main | Killing Red / Henry Perez »

Starkweather Dreams / Christopher Conlon

Creative Guy Publishing / June 2009
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina

If “true crime” poetry wasn’t a genre before, it is now. And Christopher Conlon may well be its master. In 2007, I had the pleasure of reading Conlon’s Mary Falls: Requiem for Mrs. Surratt, a poetry collection based on the co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Part of the appeal of reading that collection was the opportunity to learn about a lesser-known figure in American history.

Now, Conlon presents readers with the opportunity to learn about the life of Charles Starkweather, a notorious spree killer who was executed in 1959. Starkweather was responsible for the murders of eleven victims and the corruption of Caril Ann Fugate, his underage girlfriend and partner in crime.

Conlon’s collection is hard to read due to the visceral response it is intended to cause. The images presented are not for the faint of heart. Sometimes Conlon describes the acts committed, but it is not an attempt to be sensational or gratuitous. Each poem is savage and brutal in its own way. “Sputnik” and “Slow Learner” are heartbreaking illustrations of a young girl’s (Fugate) struggle to understand why she is no longer worthy of her mother’s love. “First Sight” and “Loving Charlie” show a tender side of the couple. The juxtaposition of tender moments and intense violence is surprising in some ways. Though murder can be a crime of passion, it is still hard to believe that people who are capable of committing violent acts are also still able to love and be loved.

Readers who have the fortitude to withstand moments of longing, heartbreak, anger and despair will come away from the experience appreciating Conlon’s effort to delve deep and examine the relationship between Starkweather and Fugate, and the mental digression that led to these horrendous crimes.

Purchase Starkweather Dreams by Christopher Conlon.

Posted on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 10:32AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend