J. E. Stanley is a talented speculative poet. Selected Regions of the Moon, his latest poetry chapbook, follows in the path laid down by Intrinsic Night, co-written with Joshua Gage, and Rapid Eye Movement. (He's written other books, too, but those are the only two that I've read so far.)
Selected Regions of the Moon is a 40-page collection of 32 speculative poems, slanted heavily toward the science fiction end of the spectrum. There's something in this collection for all readers of speculative fiction. The book contains short poems -- including four speculative haiku -- and long poems like "Silver Nitrate Trilogy" and the Rhysling Award-nominated "Random Facts About Halley's Comet." The poems are presented very nicely, each on their own page or pages, and the chapbook is professionally printed.
The book leads off with the title poem, a solemn tale about an alien threat, broken up into stanzas based on different areas of the moon. The apocalyptic story told in the poem is well-balanced by the minimalist way in which it's conveyed.
"After Eye Surgery" is one of the best poems of the book, a surprisingly deep look at ourselves and our reflections, and what it all means. A short poem but definitely powerful.
"inspiration" is a good short poem, one that uses its form visually. It is inspired by a longer poem on the same theme, written by a much less-talented writer.
"Letter from Poe" is another good short poem. It contains vivid imagery and well-placed allusion, and no word is wasted.
"Tidal Lock" is a longer poem, very surreal and entertaining. This one is hard to classify, but definitely one not to be missed.
"The Sad Gravity of the Moon," "Color Blind," and "Thoughts on Cremation" are all slightly less-upbeat offerings, but provide profound revelations that stick with you long after you turn the page.
"Asteroid" is a great example of how to plant words in a poem. A whole world is destroyed in five words (six, including the title) and nothing else needs to be said.
Stanley is obviously a master of many different forms of poetry, from the scifaiku to the cinquain to the ghazal, and much more. He doesn't rely on one style of writing, but uses every tool at his disposal to tell the story that needs to be told, and he does it in a way that makes you want to read more.
Selected Regions of the Moon is published by the Cleveland-based NightBallet Press, and can be purchased from the NightBallet Press blog for $5 plus $3 for shipping and handling. (Look for the chapbook link on the right-hand sidebar.) The book can also be bought on Amazon for $8 plus $3.99 shipping and handling.