Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #11  
Unread 09-14-2021, 04:17 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 9,115
Default

Sarah-Jane, I am fascinated with the moon, which is why I found the challenge of writing a strange and disturbing poem about the moon to be intriguing. I pulled together a lot of different associations of the moon, from Greek myth to Native American names (Hunger Moon is one of the indigenous names for the full moon of February) to scientific fact. I chose to keep the identification of the moon as female, partly because that makes the sinister overtones more surprising. Yet this is a female released from the normal gender associations, totally cut free from the reproductive cycle. Virgin, mother, and crone are the three aspects of Hecate, a goddess of witchcraft also identified with Diana, the moon goddess. There is a hint of Rilke in the mix, too, in the emphasis on loneliness.

You are quite right that I am hitting the female pronouns hard in this poem, but I think it might sap some of the power from the poem to refer to the moon as an it. I am calling it "she" to evoke sentience while treating the moon as an it at the same time. For me, that paradox creates a dissonance that fits the mood of the piece. I don't generally like the effect of switching pronouns referring to the same thing.

Susan
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Unread 09-14-2021, 04:32 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 15,494
Default

Hunger Moon has a specific meaning that I'm not sure you mean to invoke. Every full moon is given a name in the Farmer's Almanac, with the February full moon being called the Hunger Moon. Whatever month you mean this to be, I don't see any particular connection to February, and a crescent or gibbous moon isn't a Hunger Moon.

I'm finding the language of the poem a bit dense and hard to absorb, though a lot of it sounds very good. I also like "gorged and gibbous," though I wonder if "reaching saturation" isn't a bit redundant after "gorged and gibbous." I agree with Sarah-Jane that the abundance of her/she words could be cut back, but I wouldn't do it by being inconsistent. The "and" solution would be better.

Maybe "stalking, fluid" instead of "fluid, stalking"? It would break up your alliteration, which is a shame, but when I got to "fluid" it didn't immediately strike me as an adjective but felt like a noun, so I had to adjust a couple of words later.

It may just be me, but I cannot summon up an image for what it means that the crescent moon is "spinning a web" -- how is it doing that? Is there something in the actual way the moon appears that resembles the spinning of a web?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Unread 09-14-2021, 06:47 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 9,115
Default

Roger, most people probably don't know that a Hunger Moon is one name for a full moon in February. My poem does not depend on their knowing that. Instead, I assume the reader will think that the moon itself is hungry. A hungry moon could be a moon in any of its phases. I say that it starves itself once it becomes full. When the moon is gorged and gibbous, it is nearing fullness (saturation). I am not sure that I see why it is desirable to reduce the number of pronouns. The order of "fluid, stalking" sounds better to me, though I had not foreseen that "fluid" could be taken as a noun. With "Her crescent hunger spins an unseen web" I meant to evoke the crescent as looking like an open hungry mouth (with a pun on "crescent" meaning "growing") which then spins an invisible web to catch its prey. Her movement across the sky is being compared to the smooth movement of a spider gliding toward its prey across its web. Imagine that the stars in the sky are the connection points of the invisible strands of the web. I don't expect every reader to get all of this, but poetry always tries to be a little more than fully explainable. The reader has to jump from one connection to the other. I don't want it to be impossible to make the leaps, but not too obvious, either.

Susan
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Unread 09-15-2021, 08:12 AM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 720
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan McLean View Post
Sarah-Jane, I am fascinated with the moon, which is why I found the challenge of writing a strange and disturbing poem about the moon to be intriguing. I pulled together a lot of different associations of the moon, from Greek myth to Native American names (Hunger Moon is one of the indigenous names for the full moon of February) to scientific fact. I chose to keep the identification of the moon as female, partly because that makes the sinister overtones more surprising. Yet this is a female released from the normal gender associations, totally cut free from the reproductive cycle. Virgin, mother, and crone are the three aspects of Hecate, a goddess of witchcraft also identified with Diana, the moon goddess. There is a hint of Rilke in the mix, too, in the emphasis on loneliness.

You are quite right that I am hitting the female pronouns hard in this poem, but I think it might sap some of the power from the poem to refer to the moon as an it. I am calling it "she" to evoke sentience while treating the moon as an it at the same time. For me, that paradox creates a dissonance that fits the mood of the piece. I don't generally like the effect of switching pronouns referring to the same thing.

Susan
I think the fascination comes across, very genuinely, in the poem. The poem ebbs and flows, fascinating and then repelling. I picked up on the mixture of myth and science, which I really like, even on a first read.

The Hecate reference works really well, I think, in that you are pulling out the idea of the moon-as-personification/goddess (I was dimly aware of 'maiden, mother, crone', probably from folk tale or teen reading which often draws on folktale/myth/neopaganism but I don't think a reader needs to know the details - the idea of a refreshing or awakening of memory of myth is quite nice in itself).

I can see why you don't want to switch pronouns. For me, the evocation of the multiple she/hers is less a dissonance between the it/personification/uber-feminine myth of moon though, and more a kind of overwhelming tidal sonic force as I read through. Although that's slightly different to the one you intend it might work well for your intention anyway, just in a different way. But I did find it distracting, a kind of burry/blurred background noise.

I knew Hunger Moon as February, too. I know it from somewhere - as a supermoon - coming at the time when grain stocks are low and there's little to eat. I think that sense of juxtaposed fullness (of the moon) and starving humanity works well.

In case it's useful - I didn't get the image you describe in the moon-web, but I did have an image - I read it as interconnectedness, visually as white-dusty webs, the people food for the moon, caught in webs like flies in spidery larders.

I do like the poem! My fingers and toes are crossed that you get it out there!

Sarah-Jane
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Unread 09-15-2021, 08:15 AM
Jim Ramsey Jim Ramsey is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 49
Default

Hi Susan,

I like everything except "subsists" in the first line. Here's how I might revise the first two lines if this were mine:

The moon lifts spoons of loneliness and tides
from women’s blood in meals of flood and ebb.

All the best,
Jim
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Unread 09-15-2021, 08:57 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 9,115
Default

Sarah-Jane, the web is a web of connections, and there are many connections in the poem, so it is fine to read it in different ways. The insistent femaleness of the moon was intentional, but it is interesting to hear that you found it distracting. For me the femaleness was countered by the wholly other qualities described. I'm trying to give it a both/and feel. I was intrigued to hear that it was Jane Harrison and Robert Graves who popularized the idea of the triple goddess, which is not as universal as they led people to believe.

Jim, "subsists" is the word I tried hardest to find a good substitute for, but I did not find a good synonym that meant exactly that and fit the meter. Spoons would not work with the image I am trying to convey.

Susan
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Unread 09-15-2021, 09:10 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 15,494
Default

Susan, maybe "gets by on" or "scrapes by on"? Or "makes do with"?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Unread 09-15-2021, 10:19 AM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 720
Default

I can only think of 'survives on' or 'consumes just' and both are probably worse in terms of metre.

I don't have a problem reading 'subsists' in the rhythm pattern you want and it's a brittle kind of attenuated word so it works beautifully to support the juxtapositions between fullness and starveling.

Sarah-Jane
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Unread 09-15-2021, 10:39 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 9,115
Default

Roger and Sarah-Jane, my first choice was "feeds on," but that did not fit the meter. Your suggestions have overtones of meagerness, which I do not want. I am trying to suggest that her diet is ample for her needs, that she takes what she wants.

Susan
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Unread 09-15-2021, 10:57 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 15,494
Default

To me, "subsists" doesn't mean "ample for her needs" but something more like "just barely enough for her needs." The Cambridge dictionary defines it as "to get enough food or money to stay alive, but no more," and gives as an example "The prisoners were subsisting on a diet of bread and water."
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,214
Total Threads: 20,804
Total Posts: 264,332
There are 268 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online