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Book Review: Old Monarch by Courtney Marie Andrews

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Courtney Marie Andrews is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Arizona. OLD MONARCH is her debut poetry collection.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who reads this collection that Andrews 2020 Grammy nomination (Old Flowers) was in the Best Americana Album category. With images of rocking chairs, railroad overalls, desert sands, a Papa with his cowboy hat, and mentions of Frank Sinatra and Montana, OLD MONARCH is Americana. In many ways, the collection feels like a road trip across America.

The land that Andrews speaks of includes immigrants and indigenous people. You get the sense that they are truly seen by each other due to living on the same land and sharing experiences that have led to loneliness, grief, and nostalgia.

“Desire and longing are the only shoes you need to climb mountains.”

The title comes from a metaphor of the narrator to a monarch butterfly that flies away only to continue into the unknown, and to search for someone who sees her for who she is. The poet also uses the land to show how nature can keep a person company when they long for human touch.

“Begging the dead for therapy… show me how to be braver than the grandmothers before me.”

This collection connects the narrator’s earthly experiences to the celestial. There’s deep compassion for her ancestors, for their sorrows and resilience. The women in her family experienced pain but passed down their wisdom to the narrator.

The audiobook is narrated by the poet and singer. Her music plays in the background on occasion and there are small instances where she sings. These instances are well-timed and not overpowering. (Audiobooks by musicians sometimes feel like a type of music record. This is not that.) With that said, one or two poems in the collection were clearly meant to be songs due to their rhyme scheme.

“The problem is I see the Nantucket sunset once and believe it’s forever.”

Overall, this is a beautiful poetry collection by an incredibly talented person. OLD MONARCH was released on April 6, 2021.

Read more reviews on Medium.


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