Review: The Moment of Change, edited by Rose Lemberg

The Moment of Change

“I want to go moonwalking
on it or under it I don’t care
I just want to go moonwalking
— from “Werewomen” by Ursula K Le Guin

The Moment of Change assembles speculative poetry that addresses feminism in a variety of ways and from a multitude of cultural points of view. As such, many of these poems address not only feminism, but colonialism, race, culture, and broader gender issues in moving, lyrical and vivid portrayals.

“The world is wrong and I am wrung,
a bell of cloth dripping salt
into an earth too broken for roots.”
— from “Pieces” by Amal El-Mohtar

Most of the poetry is myth-based, delving into fantasy and folk lore, with only a few poems that focus on science fiction themes. I don’t know if this is because poets tend to be drawn to myth more than science fiction, or if perhaps it is more that Lemberg, as editor, is particularly interested in these kinds of stories. Regardless, Lemberg has done an excellent job of selecting and arranging the works within this anthology.

“Perfection is frictionless —
I need to stub my soul on yours,
I need to lick the slivers in your wounds.”
— from “In Defiance of Sleek-Armed Androids” by Lisa Bradley

You could, perhaps, have a discussion as to whether all of these poems are truly speculative or feminist; some poems seem to be only peripherally so. I could easily see this book or selections therefrom be included in college courses on literature and/or women’s studies. I’d like to read each poem again and then sit and think about them more, maybe break a few of them down and analyze them line-by-line. These poems leave plenty of room for reflection.

“She makes no magic. Although the stories won’t tell you,
witches are magic.”
— from “The Witch” by Theodora Goss

But even without such deeper analysis, the quality of the poems is excellent throughout the anthology and there is something to be said for the pleasure of the experience alone. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading these words, and many poems I’ve gone back to read twice, or more than twice. I’ll be picking this book up off my shelf and enjoying the poetry within for years to come. Highly recommended.

“This is a story,
and it is true of all stories
that the sound when they slam shut
is like a key turning.”
— from “The Girl with Two Skins” by Catherynne M. Valente

Edited to Add: On LibraryThing, I was asked: “How big is the time-span this anthology covers? And would you say the majority of the writers are mainly known as prosaists? Are there many “pure” poets who are exploring speculative themes?”

My Answer: The oldest poem seems to be from 1990, but most are from 2000-2012, so all very recent.

If by “pure” poet you mean someone who writes only poetry, I think considering how modern the poets, chances are that few of the are. I believe most have written novels and/or stories as well. Though I don’t think writing prose as well as poetry makes one any less of a true poet. 😉

At any rate, while the majority of the poetry is free verse with a few prose poems, I would say all of the poems are true poetry. They are not (as far as I would judge) just prose broken up into lines. Many are rich with imagery and challenging to “get” on the first (or even second) reading. All of them will make you think about the world or tales it tells in a different way.

Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment here or there.