Quite often, western culture uses the moon as a symbol of love. Feelings associated with the moon include connectedness and stillness even if love is not reciprocated. 22 Lunes by Caleb Nichols is quite similar to the moon in that it illustrates a story of love—the intricacies described are both physical and emotional, and yet, this depiction of love offers moments of pause whether the collection is read as a full narrative or individual stanzas. Through his attention to form and the use of simple yet touching language, Nichols indulges his audience to embrace feelings that we might associate with the moon.
The form of the lune (or the American Haiku) is identified in its physical shape and rhythm. With the 5-3-5 rhythm, the poems in this collection follow the pattern poet Robert Kelly originally assigned to the lune while also creating a crescent moon shape. Nichols explores the lunes’ conventional shape and diction that amplifies the moon’s gravity:
“Waves ebb as they push in,
break on shore, reform.”
Nichols emphasized that his choice to use the lune as a form for this collection of poetry was the result of a decision to reimagine poems that did not originally work in other forms but could be evolved into the lune. Nichols emphasized that it is the freedom in poetry that allowed him to “kill [his] darlings” to transform those darlings into a new story through a genre-bending form.
The language that Nichols used, which also added to the effectiveness of his chapbook, was simple enough to be accessible to multiple types of audiences but complex enough that new meanings would be revealed each time the lines are read. A beautiful example of the success of Nichols’ language:
These lines (emphasized by Nichols as lines that encompass the full meaning of the poetic narrative) show how love can be beautiful in the “[possibilities]” of being “transformed into mist” because love is near and dear but the “probability” that results is a “possibility” that love will become a memory.
Those possibilities and probabilities are also complemented with music in Nichols’ audio version of 22 Lunes. Each poem embraces unique sounds that reinforce feelings of being pulled by the moon. As a musician, Nichols has intertwined his love for poetry and music, allowing more chances for audiences to connect and understand his artistry. In doing so, Nichols believes that offering multiple modalities of poetry will only reinvigorate the reader/listener experience and encourage publishers to think about including audio alongside text and visual art.
Listen and reflect: softpeople.bandcamp.com/album/22-lunes