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Please read “The Moon is Always Female” by Marge Piercy

 

            It is not every day that a collection of poetry aligns itself so staunchly with the issues of the heart and the female spirit that it is hard to put down.  Marge Piercy’s “The Moon is Always Female” addresses loss, love, and the redefinition of feminine independency and power in a way that is both poignant and moving.  I have come to this book at different places in my life only to be stunned each time with a different level of intimacy. 

            The first section, “Hand Games,” addresses the ways humans are connected through friendship, sex, despair, hurt, etc.  It also explores what it means to be a woman and excavates the strength that is exerted through that womanhood.  In the title poem of the selection, Piercy says:

 

“We learn

some precious and powerful forces

can not be touched, and what

we touch plump and sweet

as a peach from the tree, a tomato

from the vine, sheds the name

as if we tried to write in pencil

on its warm and fragrant skin” (48-49)

 

in which she suggests that the intangible and sometimes fleeting nature of these emotions and connections are the true essence of living.

            The next and last section of the book, “The Lunar Cycle,” is a conception grown out of the idea of the lunar calendar.  Each poem represents a different stage of the lunar year excepting the first, “The Moon is Always Female,” which serves as an introduction to these highly-charged and empowering poems about womanhood, and the last, “O!” which concludes the collection with a satisfying and literal full-circle of its messages.  Throughout this series of poems, Piercy resists a world in which women are meant to be silent.  Instead, she invites them to trust themselves and each other with their lives and hold to that trust.  In “The Moon is Always Female,” (the poem) she illuminates the present struggle for women across the globe to find a place in a world that continues to suppress their voice.  She says, “The moon is always female but the sun / is female only in lands where females / are let into the sun to run and climb” (92).

            Piercy’s diction throughout this collection is a wonderful blend of blatancy and languid eloquence.  She varies between figurative language, particularly metaphor, and direct treatment of the thing.  Often her poems are addresses to a person or persons, which make the reader a part of the world she creates through her work.

            Marge Piercy is in your face in the very best way possible, addressing issues that are often brushed under the table.  I find it difficult to write about a group of poems I hold so dear to my heart without sounding too overtly sentimental.  It’s like trying to define love or faith, attempting to label something so intricately personal that it becomes impossible to articulate.  The only thing I can say is that never before or since has a book touched me so deeply as “The Moon is Always Female” and I believe that everyone -male, female, old, young – stands to benefit from exploring it.

 

-Chelsea

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