Book Review – The Woman in the Moon

Marjorie Saiser. The Woman in the Moon. Backwaters Press, 2018.

By Nina Murray.

Marjorie Saiser’s newest collection traverses elemental paths of longing, guilt, connection, and reckoning, to arrive, with a piercing honesty at the renewed discipline of being human.

The title evokes both a reclamation of a symbolic reference point and a peculiar placement of self, one that is both empowering and off-kilter–unearthy, if you will.  The woman in the moon is both someone to be contemplated and someone who looks down to consider the earth from a distant vantage.

Saiser’s writing in this collection is both unapologetic and reverent, the voice that speaks in the poems propelled by the abiding awe for the human heart and the autotelic cycles of nature. Reading this collection, beginning with the first part, which is titled “Opening to Some Other,” is the most basic encounter with poetry: the reader cannot fail but experience precisely this–an opening towards and onto another’s mind.

Saiser’s power to transport derives from the radical hospitality that is the defining quality of this collection: the poet is committed to listening and observing, with kindness and without judgement. What she sees and hears — graffiti on a passing train car, a lobster, a discrete prairie bird, the burden of knowledge that cannot rise to action — these poems elevate to a form of meditation and a call to a more engaged citizenship.

“What will our country be / after the dust settles?” is a question both of curiosity and anxiety. Saiser answers it, inevitably, with grace: “Let us, too, be double, my daughter. / Send out a song. / And also, silent, / glide over the ground, over the fences.”


Nina Murray is a native of the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv.  She is a poet and literary translator from the Ukrainian and Russian languages.  As a U.S. diplomat, she has served in Lithuania, Canada, and Russia.  She is the author, most recently, of the chapbook Minimize Considered, available from Finishing Line Press. Connect with her on Instagram: @houndart





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