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Perigee Moon


Margaret Chula
Perigee Moon
Red Mountain Press, 2021
Purchase book: www.redmountainpress.com
Author website: www.margaretchula.com
Perigee Moon is a collection of tanka, the elegant poetic form used by Japanese court poets over 1300 years ago to express desire, longing, and unrequited love. These short five-line poems create space in the reader’s mind and heart to enter the poem through their own experiences. Arranged in five sections with themes of love, family, childhood, nature, and travel, the poems in Perigee Moon weave themselves through time into a cohesive whole. From Theseus to a Zen monastery to a Goth girl to courting juncos, a panoply of emotions is revealed through images and the musicality of Chula’s language. Her tanka (“short songs”) sing out and celebrate what it is to be alive in the 21st century. from the Introduction by Michael Dylan Welch Margaret Chula migrates the ancient tanka form into English with all its virtuosity intact. Her poems are by turns tender, startling, ironical, acerbic, gritty, hilarious, self-deprecating, and achingly true. I will always treasure these poems for their loving sadness about the human predicament, and for images that can stun the reader into enlightenment: one daffodil fallen face down into a water bowl Mother’s slender neck as she drank from the stream Patrick Donnelly, author of Little-Known Operas, Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, and The Charge. In Perigee Moon, Margaret Chula writes with pinpoints of poignancy, bringing us closer to nature, to the lover, to the mother, and to life itself. Above all, we are drawn closer to our innermost selves, just as the perigee moon is drawn to the earth. Almost imperceptibly, Chula merges the elegance of the Japanese tradition with the finger-snap of the modern world. Her graceful voice heralds the way for non-Japanese — Patricia Donegan, author of Haiku Mind, and co-author (with Yoshie Ishibashi) of Chiyo-ni Woman Haiku Master Imbued with a Japanese sensibility and rendered in an American idiom, these masterful five-line poems are a sheer pleasure to read. Ranging in subject and tone from the erotic to the dolorous—and never without a touch of humor—each one makes an unexpected turn or pivot, a little poof of surprise, in the manner of the traditional tanka. Margaret Chula is an unquestionable master of the form. Clemens Starck, author of Cathedrals & Parking Lots


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