The Eater of Dreams
by Christopher Bogart
“Christopher Bogart’s poems demonstrate that poetry’s embrace can include the idea of justice and the feeling of outrage.”
—Robert Pinsky, United States Poet Laureate (1997–2000)
The Eater of Dreams begins with a vulgar curse and ends with an open question. The poems tell stories of the journey that begins in the hells of the poorest sections of Central America and ends with the hope of salvation in a new land.
The title refers, in a narrow sense, to the poem that tells of what happens to those whose lives and dreams are chewed up under the wheels of the freight train known as The Beast. In a greater sense, it refers to all of the obstacles: violent gangs, drug cartels, Mexican immigration authorities—all the dangers these migrants face on their journey north to the US. Each year, only forty percent of those who begin the journey make it to the border. One out of every five of these migrants is an unaccompanied minor. Two out of every five, men and women, are raped (or worse) by gangs or drug cartels. Some either drown in the Rio Grande or die of thirst in the American deserts. Approximately 500 bodies are either washed up on the shores or found in our deserts each year. But they keep coming because, for them, paradise could be just one more hell away.
About the Author
Christopher Bogart is a retired educator and a working poet and writer with an MA in Creative Writing from Monmouth University. He began his MFA at Monmouth University in the fall of 2019.
His poetry has been published in Voices Rising from the Grove, Spindrift, WestWard Quarterly, Saggio Poetry Journal, The Monmouth Review (2013 and 2014), Mind Murals (2013), Whirlwind Review (Fall 2014), The Howl of Sorrow, a Collection of Poetry Inspired by Hurricane Sandy, This Broken Shore (Summer 2015. 2018), Jersey Shore Poets/First Edition, as well as various online sites.
In 2015, he was chosen as First Runner Up for Monmouth University’s inaugural The Joyce Carol Oates Award for Excellence in Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Non-Fiction. In 2017, he was chosen as one of two finalists for The Brian Turner Literary Prize for Fiction. His chapbook about the Yuma 14, entitled 14: Antología del Sonoran, was awarded The Poetry Box Chapbook Prize (3rd Place) and published in October, 2018 by The Poetry Box. One of the poems in the collection, “Abraham Morales Hernandez,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2018.
He is presently writing poetry and short stories, translating the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca and Arthur Rimbaud into English, and is working on his first novel, tentatively titled The Beast, about the plight of two Honduran teenage migrants who flee poverty and crime of Central America in search of a better life in the United States of America.
Early Praise for The Eater of Dreams:
Chris Bogart gives a voice to thousands who have been “tossed so very far away.” The crisis at our southern border is front and center in this collection; you can’t look away and you can’t ignore the cries of those who have suffered and continue to suffer today. He reminds you that right now people are dying for opportunity and even for those who find it in America, there are still tears to be shed over those left behind: the living, the mutilated, and the dead. Chris takes you on their journey on train tops, through scorching deserts, to the pristine lawns of those who hardly notice so you always know the scenery, but you don’t always know their names. When you make it to the end of the book, you’ll know that shaking your head is not enough.
~ Jennifer Stahl Brown, Poet, Writer
A deeply humane and thoughtful collection that speaks eloquently and urgently to our time.
~ Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me
In 1988, critics turned against U2 for the concert film Rattle and Hum. It was too earnest, too polemical for their tastes. (The band’s appearance of the cover of Time six months earlier as “Rock’s Hottest Ticket” clearly notwithstanding). In his most recent collection, The Eater of Dreams, Christopher Bogart risks a similar earnestness, writing with elegance and compassion about “the migrant experience” and “the humanitarian crisis on our Southern border” as a poet profoundly unsettled, outraged even, by the facile, reductive rhetoric of such terms. The actual crisis, Bogart’s poems insist, is in our turning away from the lived experience of anyone who dares imperil themselves in the name of liberty, of human rights, of dignity. The poems in The Eater of Dreams command our attention for refusing to ignore this fact. May we each have the courage and the strength to bear them witness, to not turn away.
~ Dr. Derek Pollard, Poetry Editor, The Evelyn Review
In the final line of The Eater of Dreams, Chris Bogart asks us to face our own complicity in the countless tragedies that play out at our nation’s borders: “Who were we?” Are we Christine, who grimaces upon hearing Spanish at her checkout counter? Are we the cops, the government officials? Are we, like Dante’s Uncommitted, who scream at the gates of Hell which read: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here?” In spite of the tragedies in these poems, Bogart says no. Bogart says, “Beyond the fetid outposts balanced on the banks of stagnant dreams/ … I dream.”
~ Lauren Marie Schmidt, author of Filthy Labors
Christopher Bogart’s poems demonstrate that poetry’s embrace can include the idea of justice and the feeling of outrage.
~ Robert Pinsky, United States Poet Laureate (1997–2000)