Praise for The Octopus Game:

“… clever and arresting…[Nicky Beer’s] energy for collecting trivia can equal the verve of her syntax: a group of eight danseurs photographed a century ago are a “pubescent octet in sepia wash, symmetrically poised/ in borrowed frocks”; in the eponymous game, “[t]wo people sit side by side/ And become each other’s arms.” Beer’s insistence on using octopuses (and squid and cuttlefish) as metaphors does not keep her from exploring—and, at times, flaunting—marine zoology, such as when she writes, “[T]he thousands of real/ octopus corpses washed/ upon” a Portuguese beach years ago. Nor does her attention to the links between human and nonhuman life, to the way that we are all just collections of cells, prevent her from delighting in old forms, especially sonnets and pantoums…”

Publishers Weekly

“Beer takes the octopus as a central conceit in her second collection, which unfolds like a phantasmagoric bestiary. With the eye of a wild documentarian, Beer imagines fantastic names for the strange cephalopods (“viral naiad,” “charred nebula,” and “sepia epicene”), and catalogs their otherworldly traits, from their design (“three-hearted hedonist, she arches / into Gehry porticoes”) to their dreadful resemblance to mythical beasts (“Medusa / might be mantled with spectral, / tentacular snakes”). […] Beyond the supernatural appeal of her subject, Beer locates similarities between humans and these underwater wonders, as when the subject of a Van Dyck portrait conveys “the look of someone born / to live under glass, tagged with Latin.” Beer links humans and invertebrates amid the unfathomable mass of twentieth- century data—the “maddening swarm of alien ciphers”—and reminds readers of a festering, dark desire: “We cannot bear to have our depths unmonstered.”

— Booklist