Here Come The Moonbathers
Nominated for the Butler Prize
While the tone of Patricia Young’s latest collection, Here Come the Moonbathers, is perhaps more dark, difficult and tragic than her earlier work, beautifully hedonic poems spark and sizzle throughout. The poems in this collection have wild freedom, different kinds of power, exploring the themes of love and longing and loss (especially the latter) with grace, bewilderment, playfulness, and occasionally anger. There’s a surreal edge to many of these poems, a personal, political and ecological vision, and an incantatory vernacular and rhythm that makes these poems unforgettable. This collection is perhaps the more important and immediately human of Patricia Young’s celebrated career.
Miracle of Language by Rick Gibbs
A master poet produces a masterwork
Review of Here Come the Moonbathers
By Patricia Young
Biblioasis, 74 pages,
Here they come indeed, poems to understand life by. Patricia Young’s heart and eyes are wide open in this marvelous collection as she lays time, death and poetry itself bare. With her sure hand wielding the knife of understanding, Young cuts not just to the bone, but well beyond into realms that transcend the here, the now and the merely personal.
Everything is open for examination: secrets past, confusions present, questions future. In “Boyfriend, Long Dead,” an adult woman looks back to the teenage girl she was “just asking/ for it, begging to be shucked” and recalls with gratitude the boyfriend, “an ordinary kid, no feminist or saint,” who refused her drunken overtures because he didn’t want to do it “like this.”
“Boomerang” attempts to unravel the “quilt of life” in the setting of Ross Bay cemetery, where three drunks sit on a bench and “howl at what?” as the speaker, Hamlet-like, ponders the impossibility of existence: “Okay, okay. What’s Kant’s take on time and space?/ Which comes first: reality or experience?/ Is the bottle made to shape the fit of the wine?/ Are the moments goldfish leaping from our hands?”
The big question in this collection, though, is mortality and the “wrecking ball” of time that we all will face eventually: “Once, my sisters and I/ were the grasshoppers of August, our father/at the record player while we leapt/across the lawn. At the end our mother drags/ a bed into the living room, the doctor brings oxygen/ morphine floods our father’s brain.” Dark, yes, but also filled with the truth of recognition and the light of a poet’s eye.
Patricia Young has won just about every poetry award there is to win in Canada. She’s a master poet who has long been at the top of her game. Now, with the wisdom that years of life experience bring and all the skills of form and language that she owns, she invites us to “open the curtains” once more and see it all because “the light on the water has changed again.”
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Review of Here Come the Moonbathers by Maurice Mierau
Free verse impressive for its rhythmic control
Victoria writer Patricia Young’s ninth book of poetry, Here Come the Moonbathers (Biblioasis, 80 pages, $18) is beautifully crafted, subtle and emotionally intense.
Young’s free verse is impressive for its rhythmic control. Notice the double stress pattern here, the one long line, and then the return to pattern:
Why the bone clock?
Who the bone clock?
What to say about the bone clock
except it stopped when the world was still caterwauling
tooth and claw.
Young doesn’t simply produce one kind of rhythmic variation. In Twenty Questions she deploys a casual five stress line: “Dad smells of mulched leaves, something sweetly organic./ Pulverized beach shells spill from his eye sockets.”
She also has a rare gift for metaphorical thinking, where a metaphor is initially somewhat mysterious, and then comes into perfectly logical focus:
Your perfect life is not a poem after all.
Which is fine except your blood is full of magnets.
You’d like to smuggle yourself out of the abandoned city
but you’re stuck to the fridge… .
Maurice Mierau’s second book of poems, Fear Not, appears with Turnstone Press in September. * Winnipeg Free Press * © 2008 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.