Harbinger by Shelley Puhak

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Harbinger:

And now for something completely different.

Quick synopsis:

A collection of poems by Shelley Puhak.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

It’s a poetry book so none.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

See previous fun fact.

My Take on Harbinger:

I know, I know. “Brendan, this is called History Nerds United. What gives with you reviewing a poetry book?”

My answer is because I felt like it. You may recall Shelley’s name from her fantastic book (and subsequent wonderful podcast visit) The Dark Queens. Well, Shelley is a fantastic human and writer so I decided I needed to read this.

I won’t pretend to be a scholar of poetry. My two main questions when reading poetry are: 1. Did anything stick with me and 2. Do I want to read this again?

The answer to both questions for Shelley Puhak’s Harbinger is a resounding yes. Each of Puhak’s poems brought something different. Each takes on a different persona hence almost all of them being titled “Portrait of the Artist as.” Puhak has a knack for using words that jump off the page without being distracting. Portrait of the Artist as a 100-Year-Old House is the standout for me and perfectly illustrates her mastery of this whole thing. Who else could write about a house smelling “like old apple core” and make that feel real?

Ultimately, when I finished Harbinger, I had already planned to revisit it soon. I don’t think there is a stronger recommendation than that.

(I reviewed this book as an advance copy through Netgalley.)


It’s fantastic. Buy it here!

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