By Gabrielle Blanchard, Assistant Editor
As a fan of sci-fi, time travel, and romance, I was excited to read Erin Geil’s Podunk Moon: An Anthology. In this book, Geil weaves together a non-fiction poetry anthology that spans from 2003 to 2016 (though, the stories are told in reverse) and is followed by an excerpt from one of Geil’s other stories, The Great American.
But the focus here is meant to be on Podunk Moon.
The summary of Podunk Moon reads as such:
Podunk Moon is an anthology of mostly non-fiction poetry starting in 2016 and time traveling back through the years ending in 2003. A time capsule of heartache, depression, and the overall state of confusion that comes with being in your twenties. An excerpt of the suspense thriller novel, The Great American, follows after, leaving the reader with a taste of something that is altogether a darkly different breed of beast.
The collection of 100+ poems is well-organized and thought-provoking, with Geil possessing the ability to invoke a wide range of emotions in the reader. Her words are raw and deeply personal, and it begins right at her Acknowledgements page. Right from the beginning, we are allowed a glimpse into Geil’s life, as well as who and hints as to what inspired this anthology of poetry.
Briefly, we learn about some of the most important people in her life who deeply and heavily influenced her writing. Right from the start, there’s something charming and endearing about Geil’s writing, which can lead to reader wanting to know more about the author and who she is from the glimpses she allows us to have.
Getting to the poetry itself, Geil allows us a deep and honest glimpse into a time that spans her life from ages 20-34. For most of us, those are very definitive and formative years, perhaps even more than teenage years. Those are the years where we learn to navigate from teenage years into young adulthood and all the life changes that happen in-between.
Geil opens herself to the readers with topics that range from failed relationships – including a boyfriend who is briefly mentioned in her Acknowledgements – to mental illness, to sex, to struggling with self-image and worth, and hints of religion. And, it works.
Due to this honest and exposed nature, the stories can, and do, occasionally run on the darker side. And while there are brighter poems included as well, these darker ones stand out the most. The emotions are powerful as Geil uses her talent for word choice to paint pictures with every emotionally-driven poem that she writes. Every word, every line, comes from her heart and it shows.
There is power in the darkness Geil has chosen to shed a light upon. While her poems come from the heart and are drawn from her personal experiences, they’re accessible and relatable to those who read them.
Choosing to tell the stories ‘backwards’ was an interesting and different, but smart, choice of the author. It’s not a regression, per se, but the poems begin to take on a different tone as we travel further backwards in time. The author is wilder, maybe freer in some ways, than the person we meet at the ‘beginning’ of the journey. As readers, we move into the past and this method of storytelling just makes sense here.
It is a glimpse at how much some individual changes over time, how much being in your twenties shapes you as a person but leaves the reader with an idea of who the writer was before she began her journey. We slowly learn what made “The Honey Snake” come from “Only a Face.”
Geil is very gifted when it comes to her word choice and phrasing. While some poems aren’t quite as strong as others – a given, considering the sheer amount of them here – where Geil shines, she shines brightly, and all her stories are raw, exposed, and sometimes painfully honest. Even a few of the poems that aren’t quite as strong as the others manage to tug at the reader’s emotions.
Geil is not afraid to put all her raw, unfiltered, unabashed emotions on the page and ‘her’ story is often universal. The situations may not be precisely identical, but the emotions are easily felt and understood.
For those who love poetry, Podunk Moon is worth the time it takes to read, as is the excerpt of The Great American that follows. Podunk Moon is a true anthology that takes time for a reader to make their way through, especially if they want to fully engage and immerse themselves in the story Geil has laid out for them, but the payoff is immense.
Even those who may think they’re not fans of poetry may find her words and experiences something that stirs something within them, with Geil touching on some very universal experiences.
It’s dark and messy, but it’s real.
I highly encouraging giving Podunk Moon a chance. Perhaps it will stir up old emotions or help to feel less alone in dealing with current ones, but Geil’s words are likely to invoke some sort of reaction within the reader.
Writer’s Note: In exchange for an honest review, I received a complimentary copy of this book.
Photo Credit: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Erin Geil