Mary Meriam, Lillian Faderman, and Amy LowellDec 17, 2015
Lady of the Moon
Headmistress Press 2015
In Lady of the Moon (Headmistress Press, 2015), the reader is graced not only with the poetry of Amy Lowell, but with sonnets in response and a scholarly essay on the poet's life, love, and work. Amy Lowell lived and wrote in a time when she could not be entirely herself, could not fully claim her rightful space among the great writers of love poetry and celebrations of the beloved. She had to reveal her truths by hiding them. As much as she cloaked her work, shifted genders of speaker and beloved, the truth of the poems resonate now as unabashed declarations of love and desire for her partner, Ada Russel. This collection places the relationship with Russel at the forefront in such a way that it honors what could not be honored before. But this is true of most of the work published by Headmistress Press: necessary voices are given the mic before it is too late, a safe space is offered for rumination on gender, sexuality, and all spectrums of identification, and the work of poets like Amy Lowell is given the truthful and critical analysis it deserved while the poet was living. We know that Amy Lowell wanted to be understood better as a poet. She did not want to hide her love, her body, or her desires but knew that it would only be safe to be fully realized after her death. She left the door open for us, as readers. You will sit here, some quiet Summer night, Listening to the puffing trains, But you will not be lonely, For these things are a part of me. And my love will go on speaking to you Through the chairs, and the tables, and the pictures, As it does now through my voice, And the quick, necessary touch of my hand. (From "Penumbra" by Amy Lowell) As scholars and poets, Mary and Lillian came together to create this homage not only to Amy Lowell but to her long-time relationship with Ada Russel. So much care was paid to this union that it is Ada's photo that graces the cover. In Mary's 27 response sonnets, the reader is offered an opportunity to have the veil lifted somewhat-- maybe even to afford Lowell the transparency she craved. Who among us does not want to celebrate our love for another person? Who does not want to jump up, yell it from the rooftops? Maybe Lowell trusted that her poetry memorialized their relationship and that her declarations of love would truly be understood long after she and Russel were gone from the physical world. And even in the daylight sky, your streams Of light show through the ruling blue, and give, Making the world more hopeful than it seems. Inside my lines, your love and beauty live, Etched in my books, with nothing to forgive Or be forgiven for, an ancient light That lasts forever. You should know, I give My fortune, house, and heart, to keep you bright When I am gone. (From "Sonnet 27" by Mary Meriam) For any who wished to understand more about Amy Lowell and her work, who felt the gaping holes in the teaching of her writing and life, should pick up this collection. The poet is honored by showing plainly her reverence and desire for Ada Russel.