Earlier this year, Aqueduct Press released The Moment of Change, a collection of poetry edited by Rose Lemberg, founder and co-editor of the web magazine Stone Telling. Since its release, this anthology has garnered strong critical praise and recognition as a benchmark in literature. According to Lemberg, before and during her reading period for the anthology she observed that feminist poetry in the fantastical tradition, especially poetry written in the voices of women and marginalized groups, lacked “a space in which our diverse voices could resonate against each other and create an amplified and complex meaning.” What we now have in The Moment of Change is exactly such a space: a collection of works so extensive, dense, and intense that it expands the space it is placed within and makes a territory for itself.
The range of approaches and voices in this collection is astounding; as Lemberg notes in the introduction, there are “works that can be labeled mythic, fantastic, science fictional, historical, surreal, magical realist, and unclassifiable.” The roll call of writers represents a strong mix of those who are already well-established in circles of fantastical writing and poetry (Ursula K. Le Guin, Theodora Goss, Catherynne M. Valente, Nisi Shawl, etc.) and those who are on their way to being well-established themselves, if their writing in The Moment of Change is any indication. This is a collection where everyone shines. Every poem gives the reader at least one lingering image – the woman who sews the gold candle-holder into her wrist in Alex Dally MacFarlane’s “Beautifully Mutilated, Instantly Antiquated”; Lilith throwing “a shape of Adam” into a river running through the Garden of Eden in Sonya Taaffe’s “Madonna of the Cave” – or a haunting narrative that leaves one dangling at the very end, wanting to hear what comes next.
This is a stunning collection of poetry, of deeply felt, painstakingly crafted expressions of doubt, hope, fear, courage, transformation, transgression, and other emotions and experiences that beg to be given form. More than that, though, it’s also a strong, undeniable collection of voices, all of which make their own individual cases to be heard. As such, this isn’t the kind of collection a reader should try to rush through in the span of a day or two. They need to take their time to listen to those voices and understand why they need to listen to what they say.
Weirdfictionreview.com is proud to reprint two of the poems from The Moment of Change: “The Haunted Girl” by Lisa Bradley and “Bluebeard Possibilities” by Sofia Rhea with translation by Lawrence Schimel. These poems give an excellent taste of the anthology: both are fantastical in nature, taking a slantwise look at and even interrogating perceptions and experiences of femininity and all it entails, and both will leave a mark on the reader they won’t soon shake off.