The Woman Who Went to The Moon captures in poems, six days spent in the tiny community of Igloolik in the Arctic winter of January 2006. Ice-locked to the Melville Peninsula, Igloolik lies west of Baffin Island. This is the year of the Circumpolar Moon, where the full moon sweeps the heavens at the lowest point of its curve in its 18.6-year cycle. The poems are suffused with its light and the slow ebb of its celestial brightness in the days that follow, as the sun for first time in four months creeps over the horizon, heralding the approach of spring. The poems weave women’s igloo art, a community’s grief for teenage suicides, the immensity of landscape, and the tension between the Elder’s intuition and the outsiders’ science. Shifting between mythic tale-telling and the vibrancy of town life, these poems will speak to those for whom body, soul, and naming are not divisible.
“In the Introduction to this deeply felt and deeply perceptive book, Rosemary Clewes writes: “It is for these people—for whom body, soul, and naming are not divisible that I tell my story to you in poems.” Her sentence touches on the three central elements of The Woman Who Went to the Moon: the story of her visit to a place, the people who inhabit that place, and the luminous poetry that conveys the experience. Like the “woman shaman” she invokes, Clewes summons up with deft verbal magic the land and culture of the Innu, pulling her reader into the splendors and the sorrows of the Great Dark with poetic lines as incisive as the “pencilled light” of moonbeam that frames the fishing hut of “Close Up.”
“From an experienced Arctic traveller and accomplished poet these are love poems—tender, sensual, ecstatic—to the land and the people of Canada’s North, a world plunged in winter into a profound darkness alleviated only by the diurnal moon. These are also exquisite poems of sorrow in the face of all that threatens Canada’s North—its inhabitants and its environment. A must read for all those who care.”
—Ruth Roach Pierson