Book Review: Foundlings by Cindy O’Quinn & Stephanie Ellis


Title: Foundlings

Authors: Cindy O’Quinn & Stephanie Ellis

Release date: February 14th, 2022

Found Poetry.

To me, a poetry novice (read uneducated in all of the forms of poetry!), my first experience with Found Poetry was with last years ‘Strange Nests’ by Jessica McHugh. In that collection, McHugh reconstructed sections of ‘The Secret Garden’ to create vivid poems. Reconstructed might not be the correct word or idea, but I’m not sure how else to describe it.

In Found Poetry, the author essentially ‘blacks out’ portions of lines to reveal the word or words that they need to use to create their own poem. It is really something and both staggering to comprehend and fantastic to read.

Which brings me to ‘Foundlings.’ Cindy O’Quinn and Stephanie Ellis are not only two of my favorite writers to read, but also two of my favorite people in the dark fiction community. Time and time again they demonstrate their talent as well as their kindness, so seeing them team up for this release had me super excited.

Within ‘Foundlings,’ O’Quinn and Ellis focus on the poetry of the amazing duo of Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti, both of whom are phenomenal writers on their own right.

What I liked: The book is separated in different sections. First we get O’Quinn’s found poems, then Ellis’, and in the last section we then also get to see them take it to a whole other level by crafting Haiku’s as well. Re-read that last bit. I’ll wait while you give your head a shake. That’s right. Not only do they first tackle straight forward poetry (and trust me this isn’t simple in that sense) but then go one step further and craft Haiku’s from Addison and Manzetti’s work. Stunning.

The poems within are all really, really engaging and filled with visceral images, moving passages and heartfelt moments. It makes it all the more intriguing when you remember that this was once someone else’s work and through stripping away words and portions, they’ve left us with something completely new. It’s akin to the phoenix rising from the ashes but time and time again.

Now, in most of my reviews of collections and anthologies, I often highlight a few that stuck with me or that I felt were the ‘best,’ but in this case I’m not going to for two reasons. The first is that every single piece within was really, really phenomenal. The second reason, is I don’t think it would be fair to Addison and Manzetti. I know that sounds odd, but both of those writers are living legends in the fiction and poetry worlds and I wouldn’t want to suggest that any of their original work was lesser by highlighting something written from it. It may seem odd, but for me, I just can’t bring myself to do that.

Saying all of that – I do want to highlight the level of care and thought that O’Quinn and Ellis put into this project, as well as just how fantastic those Haiku’s are at the end. To take something and craft a found poem inspired by someone else’s work is one thing, but to then restrict yourself to Haiku parameters. Wow. Just wow.

What I didn’t like: This release was really phenomenal, but for those who are potentially put off by not being familiar with Addison’s or Manzetti’s work, don’t let that stop you. Much in the way McHugh also took source material and utilized it to her own benefit, O’Quinn and Ellis do that same.

Why you should buy this: O’Quinn and Ellis are two of the most supportive people out there, so that should be reason enough to buy this. Saying that, this release is just an outstanding achievement. What they’ve done here is hands down one of the most amazing things I’ve read; both the poems and Haiku’s they’ve created, but also the amount of work that has gone into this release.

The dual foreword’s by Addison and Manzetti really show how much they’re in awe of what has been created here and that in itself should really show you what you’re in for.

Kudos to Cindy and Stephanie, this was outstanding.


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