Poetry Therapy

MOON FULL OF MOONS was featured recently in a full, two-page review by the Journal of Poetry Therapy, the publication of the National Association of Poetry Therapy. Like me, the NAPT believes in the healing power of poetry, and they are doing wonderful and necessary work towards “promoting growth and healing through language, symbol, and story”.

I am delighted by the favorable review that MOON FULL OF MOONS has received in this interdisciplinary academic journal, including the statement that “Moon Full of Moons offers rich material for poetry therapy.” Selections from the review are below.

 

JOURNAL OF POETRY THERAPY, 2017
VOL. 30, NO. 1, 61–62

BOOK REVIEW

Moon Full of Moons: Poetry of Transformation, by Kat Lehmann, CT,
Peaceful Daily, Inc., 2015, 124 pp., $14.95 (paperback), ISBN-10: 0988492644

…As the poet says in the Introduction,

 “the Moon is our shining metaphor in the sky, a symbol for loss in the darkness that travels the arc from ruin to renewal and eventually realizes the light of a new happiness. The phases of the Moon are the phases o..f ourselves.” (p. 3).

 …The book is organized into nine chapters, moving through the eight phases of the moon. Starting in “carefree innocence”, they move through the waning lights of melancholy, isolation, the darkest phase of hopelessness and despair, and then rise into waxing light, working toward a new cycle of wellness, working to reinvent the self and to come round again to the full moon…The first chapter of poems (Full Moon phase) offers refreshing images and themes of childlike pleasure in the natural world – frogs, stuffed animals, and butterflies. Like shells on the beach, lines from these poems beg to be picked up and admired for their sweet joyfulness:

 “a sand of stars has grown a pearl” (“Nights of the First Full Moon”)

 “A peach is always eaten on its own terms” (“Peach”)

 “the slow jump rope of the Sun” (“Alive”)

 Poems in the second chapter (Waning Gibbous) are spoken in the voice of a mother expressing love for her children as well as sadness and wonder at the mystery of their growing up and away from her: “We turned corners together, tethered as one. / Now you run ahead, so big, / my baby deep in your archeology” (“The Baby That Time Grew Up”).

In the Waning Half Moon phase, the poems turn more contemplative as the light dims.

…Poems in the chapter of the Waning Crescent reflect the tenuous hold on reality we can feel in uncertain spaces. Questions are open-ended, and we lose certainty that we aren’t lost in the open darkness of space. In “Emergency Department”, the doctor informs the patient “It’s like your heart doesn’t know what to do” and the patient thinks “Whose does? Whose does.” But some consolation is brought us by “Spider” – like the spider who holds her web in her belly, we can learn to “hold home’s creation / within ourselves simply”.

The poems of the New Moon are of course evocative of the dark psychic spaces, including grief, mental illness, and a desperate search for healing. In this space we learn that “A heart doesn’t break as much as it collapses” (“Collapsing Heart”).

…But building back from the dark is not easy. “The only way to persevere is to refuse to do otherwise” (“Inertia of the Past”). In the waxing chapters, the poems return to themes of motherhood and family, but there is now a new tone of both acceptance and personal responsibility, an ability to “give pain its due” while also realizing “it can own only so much/of you,/unless you give it more” (“The Fear of It”). The poems increase their declarations of hope and a growing sense of healing and even happiness.

…In the full moon’s clear light, we are offered the healing question, “But what if we owned the wounds?”

…The penultimate poem of the book proposes two kinds of happiness: “The First is the familiar ways we die/The Second is the new ways we find to live.” These lines, along with the very last line in the book, offer a clear reflection of the wisdom that Lehmann offers the reader who walks with her on this journey through inner moonscapes: “I am the stone of my skies.”

Nice as these lines might be when pulled out of context, they carry much more power when arrived at through the entire narrative arc of this satisfying ensemble of poems. Moon Full of Moons offers rich material for poetry therapy. The overall concept and structure of the moon’s phases as a kind of mythical journey has a wide variety of interesting possibilities and many of the poems touch on themes very salient in a therapeutic setting: lost innocence, despair, mental illness, grief, family, motherhood, love, forgiveness, regaining personal power, experiencing connection with creation, finding happiness. Also many of the images and lines would serve well as writing prompts. Lehmann’s treatment of her personal life experiences imbue the poems with authenticity and heart, while at the same time the themes and images are likely to speak to each reader’s own personal experience.

 

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