The Whole Singing Ocean

Jessica Moore. Nightwood, $19.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-88971-378-9
Subtitled a “story in poetic fragments,” this uneasy, fact-based collection from Moore (Everything, Now) is rich with hypnotic whale descriptions and stark photographs of the Northwest coast, where the speaker dallies with an attractive male boat builder. In one, he speaks of a French school he attended on an antique sailing ship in the Azores and modelled on the philosophy of Jean Foucault. It was founded “to abolish the separation between adults and children,” by a pedophile, it turns out, who was later tried and jailed. Moore skillfully weaves the intrigue and beauty of the natural world (“Seeing a whale was a fathomless want,” the speaker admits) with the true and often startling story of this boat school. In the tradition of sea tales, the collection is full of literary conceits; a voice appears, speaking in uppercase, and the speaker questions whose it is—her own, perhaps?—before the narrative progresses. These poems swirl together like plastic refuse in the ocean, where a whale is said to rise “like an arpeggio from the dark.” Readers will find this a fascinating and occasionally uneasy collection that captures the friction in beauty and transgressions. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 03/19/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Poetry
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