Review: Drawing Down the Moon by Allison Creighton

Shauna Osborn

PQ Contributing Editor
Drawing Down the Moon
Allison Creighton
Turning Point Books, 2015
84 pages
ISBN: 9781625491312
Typically when one sees the phrase “drawing down the moon,” it is involved in discussions of magical spells, pagan rituals, or astrological readings. This is not what we find in Creighton’s collection of narrative poetry. Bursting with imagery of water, glass, and the celestial body identified in its title, this poetry collection steers clear of narcomancy and sorcery to focus on the duality of body and soul and the disconnect between the two. There is a variety of poems within the collection based on dreams, which is where the title of the collection is derived. One of these which is memorable is ‘The Fisherman of Treasure Island,’ where the persona of the poem see a photo of her brother on a fishing boat, which leads her to dream of being a mermaid being reeled in by the willful sibling. The emotional connection between the siblings is not a happy one, but is shown as complex through the persona’s response to the image of her brother and then the progression of the dream later that night.
The poems that draw this reader in within the collection were ones based in solid observation, such as within “Inside the Corner Room.” The poem in its entirety:
Inside the Corner Room

She sits at a wooden table
with her blue midnight pen
in a silent room with one window.
A red candle to coax her confessions.
A hard bed to keep her from sleep.

She sees herself-a stranger,
in the mirror by the door.
There is an empty basket
on the floor beside the bed.
A tarnished silver thimble.

She reaches out, presses her palm
flat against the pane-
leans closer
and stares through the fog
of her breath upon the glass.

There is a storm quickening
on the outside of her room.
Lightning brightens each corner.
At last comes the thunder,
the water pouring down.

The scene created within these four stanzas is clear and specific. You can see the use of many of the common threads of the collection within this poem—water, glass, questions of identity, mirrors, and a sense of disconnection and loneliness. The image of the palm pressed against the window is one that mimics the tone of the collection as a whole—a portrait of solitude, contemplation, emotional flurries, and long rainy nights.
Also showing the author’s keen sense of observation is the poem “The Avenue” which is one of the few poems that situates itself out in the world without a familial connection.  While there is the use of some tired language in earlier stanzas (such as “the heart of the city”), the final stanza is one to remember.
            in spellbinding attire—
            These mannequins given no eyes.
The alliteration, paired with the haunting image of eyeless plaster heads is powerful.
Drawing Down the Moon included several strong pieces that I thought were well written, including the aforementioned poems, “Window,” “Steam,” and “Upon Returning Home Without You” among them.