This poetry collection is unique in a couple of ways. First, its running theme is based on the animal class Cephalopoda (i.e. octopi and squid) and how human life likens to that of those many-limbed creatures. It also features ancillary material such as artistic works and interactive exercises – e.g. build your own octi-poem, “squidoku,” etc. The collection consists of free-verse and prose poetry.
The book uses a unique blend of artistic and scientific language. That characteristic creates a niche for the work, but it’s also the source of its greatest weakness, a weakness that lies in the fact that a few of the poems send any reader who’s not a marine biologist running for their dictionaries. That’s a fine quality in a non-fiction book, but can make poetry difficult to absorb — given the importance of the sonic / musical quality of the medium and the need for emotional resonance.
I enjoyed the concept and found it to be clever. While most of the poems were not so laden with scientific jargon to make them incomprehensible for a general reader, a few were. That said, I don’t know how niche an audience the book is targeting. I suspect it will have trouble reaching a general audience of poetry readers, though it may resonate more with oceanographers and biologists.