Monsters in My Closet by Ruby Urlocker

Ruby Urlocker’s Monsters in My Closet is a collection of poems and short stories by a talented young writer with a fresh voice who explores the uncertainty of her teenage years and the harsh realities of adolescence.  She explores themes of growing older, losing one’s innocence, and battling inner demons.  Even though she deals with harsh realities, her images are playful and sometimes whimsical, like her short story about a banana dreaming of becoming human — reminiscent of Kafka’s Metamorphosis but in reverse.

From "Walking Around the World":

I walked across the world today
in my old running shoes.
Because I was free on a Saturday
And wanted to beat my blues.
From "Fallen Angel":

My shadow, hanging onto the wall.
I watched it turn to meet my gaze,
My eyes, a desperate wish.
Those stares, those sugar coated liars
Stealing away who I am.
From "The Storm":

There's a gust of wind inside my throat,
Hands clutching it tightly so as not to hurt anyone.
But I grow sick and weary of choking myself

Urlocker has a childlike way of expressing emotions, but she also displays a mature grasp of the darkness that lurks within all of us. Alongside the shadows and ghosts her narrators chase around corners and into the darkness, religious verse and stories ground the reader in a belief that there is something more to this life — whether it is a reincarnation of the same soul until the goal is achieved or the passage of the soul into the afterlife. Unlike other teenage writings that are often full of angst and despair, Urlocker infuses her stories and poems with hope and color — a beacon in the darkness.

One of the most surprising and most developed pieces is “Hidden People,” which is more than a homage to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. Urlocker talks about imaginary friends and growing up, which in some cases means leaving those beloved friends behind along with are more innocent selves. Even though this is a short piece, readers will become emotionally invested in the story the narrator weaves about her past and friends. There is a deep sense of regret and loss, but also the fondness of those memories.

Monsters in My Closet by Ruby Urlocker is a well crafted debut that explores themes of adolescence, lost innocence, and the hormonal battle that teens experience as they sort through friendships, memories, and love. The collection also includes illustrations, which merit a mention as they are unique and childlike, but also demonstrate a complexity that mirrors the work Urlocker does in prose and verse. She’s an up-and-comer with room to grow and surprise us.

If you’re interested in winning a copy of her book, enter the giveaway here.

About the Author:

Ruby Urlocker is a teenaged author, singer and songwriter. She has been writing and publishing stories since she was seven. Ruby lives with her family and dog, Rufus, a wheaten terrier.


This is my 1st book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013 and the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

eBooks Mess With Poetic Intent

eBooks continue to receive a lot of press, particularly when James Patterson becomes the first to sell more than 1 million ebooks and Kindle ebooks have outsold hardcovers.  But are ebooks the best option for all genres and will they translate into sales for short stories and poetry.

One poet — Billy Collins — has taken issue with ebooks.  The recent translation of his book, Ballistics, into an ebook was a disaster.  In one poem, a word was pushed onto a new line, creating a four-line stanza rather than the three-line stanza of the original poem.  According to a recent Associated Press story, ebook distributors and publishers cannot guarantee that the integrity of poems will be maintained once in electronic form.  Large indentations and other styles will likely lose their integrity in ebook form, creating new poems that are different than the poet envisioned or than the originally published poem.  These changes do not only apply to new poems, but also for the poems of older, dead poets.  Think of what [raise the shade] by e.e. cummings would look like in an ebook.

Collins says, “The critical difference between prose and poetry is that prose is kind of like water and will become the shape of any vessel you pour it into to. Poetry is like a piece of sculpture and can easily break.”  He’s right, and there are many other poets who are wary of providing their books electronically, even though it would behoove them to do so if they hope to sell more books.

Poets by and large do not earn a lot from their work, but the integrity of each poem is highest in their thoughts and actions when they produce, read, and sell those poems to the public.  However, poetry is available electronically across the Internet from online literary journals to other resources.  The question is how long will it take ebook publishers to get the poems right, especially when other online poetry magazines are ensuring the integrity of poems.