A Hundred Gourds 3:2 March 2014

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page 10    

Moondance – Marian Olson

reviewed by Lorin Ford

book cover

Moondance, by Marian Olson
Santa Fe, N.M.: Deep North Press , 2013.
52 unnumbered pages.
ISBN 978-10929116-19-5.
Print book: 18 cm; 5.5˝ x 7˝
Semigloss deep blue card covers
and heavy paper pages; perfectbound.
Price: US$15.00 + s&h
from the poet at

The high production values of this chapbook are unequalled: tissue-like, translucent end-papers, deep blue pages, each of the thirty-nine haiku printed one per page in white accompanied by images of the white moon in its various phases on every double page spread. The publisher has provided an optimal aesthetic setting for the haiku. Further, the author provides a preface that outlines the context in which she intends the series to be read:

“. . . This slim volume of moon poems is an account of the moon’s influence in a lifetime’s relationship with a loving mate. While the poems are personal they are not unique. They reflect what most lovers know. . . .”

Marian Olson is one of the stayers in the American haiku community: her haiku have continued to be published in journals from 1992 to the present day. Among many other honours awarded to Marian, her book, Desert Hours, took first place in the 2008 Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards and her free verse collection, Consider This, was one of the eight winners of the 2011 Snapshot Press e-chapbook competition. We’d expect a sure and practised hand and a confident voice in Moondance and readers won’t be disappointed.

Moondance begins with a quotation from the 1970 Van Morrison song of the same name and readers will find other references to popular love songs along the way. While most of the haiku are in the normative three-line form, there is also a well-judged scattering of four-liners and monoku.

A few of my personal favourites might give readers an idea of the range of haiku in Moondance:

a saffron moon
colors the night
              don’t talk
breathe into me

full moon
          I iron a wrinkle
into your pants

full moon only a moon without you

you come
            and go
moon among clouds

Simplicity is an art that Olson has mastered: none of the haiku in Moondance present the reader with challenges of interpretation. The layout of each haiku is designed to support and enhance the content. This series is simply to be relaxed with and enjoyed for what it is: a collection of well-crafted poems from a long-lasting relationship between a woman and a man, connecting with the ever-present moon in all its phases.

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