Now available from Wiseblood Books: A Ship to Hold the World, and The Marionette’s Ascent. This double volume is destined to become a classic work of the religious imagination. Each poem in the first volume, A Ship to Hold The World can be described as Dramatic Monologue meets Midrash, each soulful and sensual verse written in the voice of a Biblical character: from Satan to Salome, from Noah to Lazarus. Here we witness “Delilah’s Defense” and “Job at The Garage Sale.” In the second volume, The Marionette’s Ascent, we encounter the unforgettable character of Marion, a brash and brilliant “everyman” marionette who finds herself on a Dantean journey through purgatory, hell and heaven. Her ever-present strings remind of the sufferings and sacrifices of each our own lives and, ultimately, of the cost of redemption. These poems are at times laugh-out-loud funny, and at other times, heartbreaking.
Like a sumptuous Northern diptych—Van Eyck’s Crucifixion and Last Judgment, say—Annabelle Moseley’s twinned volumes treat Biblical subjects through stunning compositions and vivid colors. In A Ship to Hold the World, Old Testament voices speak from the embers of ancient narratives with a contemporary spark. In The Marionette’s Ascent, it is not Dante who makes this spiritual journey but our semblable, a puppet, dancing to another’s tune: we are all, at times, willing or unwilling marionettes, the book suggests, and who of us cannot feel the truth of this. Moseley pulls the strings in these signal volumes, and the resulting show is mesmerizing. —David Yezzi
When we pray, we put our two hands together, a symbolic gesture made possible because our bodies rhyme. In this amazing collection, Annabelle Moseley has hinged together two books, which, on first glance, would seem to be very different than our matching hands: venerable voices from the Old Testament in the first book, followed by the far more contemporary voice of “Marion,” a highly opinionated stringed puppet who has “dropped the ette” from her name. Moseley is a master of music in both volumes. Her characters speak in a perfect pentameter line, unnoticed because flawless. This poet knows line breaks: when to enjamb and when not. So never do we get the “Hallmark Card” effect. Instead, these are living voices we can really believe. “It’s dancing through restraint that is the test,” says Marion, and Annabelle Moseley has done just that in these remarkable poems. —Bruce Guernsey
Reading Annabelle Moseley’s double volume is like witnessing a dazzling, sophisticated “Cirque du Soleil” act. All elements combine; entertaining and strange, full of character and choreography, feeling and forward motion. There is never a dull moment, nor any passage which may be lightly-treated except to the reader’s disadvantage. Good judgment is here, too, in great quantities, as though the poems of A Ship to Hold the World, and The Marionette’s Ascent launched themselves from the flying trapeze of utterly-candid innocence, to fill the reader with trepidation, sailing over the safety net to safely land on a high platform of Wisdom—far above the reader, but visible, still. —Jennifer Reeser
Annabelle Moseley’s double gift of poetry (two books in one) is attuned to the higher powers that animate her art. Moseley’s confidence in forms yields a voice that is, by turns, playful, darkly witty, passionate, and powerful. This poet breathes life into old toys and ancient texts, in the most serious kind of play: the artist’s conjuring of worlds we can’t resist. —Ned Balbo