Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Hunger Moon: New and Selected Poems 1980-2010

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Hunger Moon: New and Selected Poems 1980-2010

Article excerpt

Radical feminist poet Marge Piercy has mellowed, finding peace in marriage and spiritual awakening.

Some readers may avoid Marge Piercy's The Hunger Moon simply

because of her reputation as a social activist and radical feminist,

but that would be a mistake. Her new and selected poems, which span

the past 30 years, deserve to be read without labels.

Those who do so will quickly find that the poems are surprising,

inviting, and engaging because Piercy always takes a bold, confident

stance, even when she changes her perspective - over time - or

shares wisdom that sounds almost commonplace.

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In the opening poem, for example, she takes aim at complacency and

laziness in relationships:

We walk all over the common miracleswithout bothering to wipe our

feet.Then we wonder why we need moreand more salt to taste our food.

My old man, my old lady, myball and chain: listen, even the catyou

found starving in the alleywho purrs you to sleep dancingwith

kneading paws in your hairwill vanish if your heart closes its fist.

The poem establishes Piercy as a trustworthy guide, so readers

follow her willingly through several pages where she describes how

she felt about marriage and love years ago - as traps to be

avoided. This earlier perspective is part of her evolution, which

feels like an important and shared journey.

The same is true in the second section of poems, from "My

Mother's Body," where Piercy casts a clear and sometimes

withering eye at her mother, who allowed social expectations to

smother her until "The anger turned inward, the anger/ turned

inward where/ could it go except to make pain?/ It flowed into me

with her milk."

That relationship, always defined by tension, is a crucial theme for

both the book and the poet. A young Piercy becomes an activist while

her mother acts like a spectator in her own life. Later, when her

mother dies, Piercy mellows and changes, finding meaning and solace

in Jewish religious practices that her parents had not followed. …

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