Fiona Moore’s second pamphlet, Night Letter (HappenStance Press, 2015), is very much a sequel to her first one, The Only Reason for Time (HappenStance Press, 2013).
If the earlier chapbook dealt with Moore’s grief and bereavement in the aftermath of her partner’s death, this new collection looks at what comes next. What lies beyond the immediacy of grief when the person in question has been so pivotal to you? Their absence is so all-pervading that it consumes the rest of your life. How are you to face the yawning years ahead?
In Night Letter, Moore meets these issues head-on with the same detached yet committed poetics as she displayed in her first pamphlet. Her focus is on the night-time, when nothing can interrupt the maelstrom of emotions. They veer to and fro throughout the book, expressed with exquisite linguistic skill via devices such as the use of double negatives and self-contradiction:
“…I can’t not imagine you…”
“…both nearer and further away…”
Her poem “The Embrace”, meanwhile, portrays an encounter with her dead partner in a dream. It provides us with a passage that’s key to a greater understanding of this collection:
“…We hugged and
life began to run again through my veins and bones
heart and head…”
Those afore-mentioned contradictions are brought to the fore here, implicit and intense. An embrace brings the speaker back to life, yet the other party is dead. She’s coming alive within a dream, yet the dream is condemned to end imminently and leave her in a living death. Moreover, emotional and physical life and death merge and separate and merge again. The reader is invited to compare and contrast this dream-like state of the night with the terrifying shell of the day that awaits.
Back in 2013, The Only Reason for Time seemed an immense achievement in itself, a remarkable stand-alone project. If anything, the only doubt was as to how Fiona Moore might progress from there in poetic terms. Well, Night Letter provides a conclusive answer. She’s built on her earlier book and explored new territory beyond it. This is poetry that will last.