Full Moon of Afraid and Craving by Melanie Power

You can’t go back in time and revisit your past, but you can read poetry that plunks you in the scenes of your life, and that’s close to the same thing. Full Moon of Afraid and Craving, the debut collection of poetry from Montreal-based Newfoundlander Melanie Power was full of poems that sent me back to my own millennial childhood, as well as being slyly, wonderfully Atlantic Canadian. The first poem, “Ode to a McCain’s Deep’n Delicious Cake,” revealed that I was in the presence of a poetic kindred spirit. This was further confirmed later in the poem, with the lines, “Anyone who claims/Canadian cuisine is non-existent hasn’t/heard of McCain, born & raised in/New Brunswick, the world’s largest/retailer of frozen potatoes.” A McCain Deep’n Delicious Cake is a strange marvel of engineering, as Power points out, and I was absolutely gleeful reading that.

“The first poem….revealed that I was in the presence of a poetic kindred spirit.”

Equally as delightful and as reverent about strange processed desserts is “Ode to the ½ Moon,” praising the vanilla Vachon cake: “The crinkle/of a Vachon wrapper in your pocket/was plastic happiness…” I could taste the ½ Moon while reading Power’s couplets, giggling at her description of the ingredients as “part cumulus cloud, part oxygen, part edible pillow.” Much of the poems in this collection are written in several different types of two-line stanzas, couplets but not quite, making use of the space on the page skillfully to draw attention to different phrases and words. The stanzas in “Ode to the ½ Moon,” force you to take your time, holding Power’s words and memories with care, even if they are about a cheap snack cake.

Power’s wordplay with nostalgia also takes more serious turns with a critical eye turned on the difficulty of being a teenager. “Elegy to 17,” “After Midnight,” “The Real Pleiades,” and “The Fever and the Fret,” all look back at more youthful days, tinged with both wistfulness and regret. There is fondness for the younger versions of the narrator, and their friends in these poems, but also frustration with younger selves. Power expresses this outright in “Elegy to 17”: “Not a drop of sense in my head/and each desire reducible to a slew/of tight-jeaned, face-painted pleas to be beautiful.” What a striking and accurate way to write about the insecurities of late teenagehood, a confusing and fraught time.

Full Moon of Afraid and Craving is like a dreamy, atmospheric stroll through time and memory, reflecting on the different pieces which make up a life, from the snacks you are, the clothes you wore, the desires you had, and the places you lived. Power’s poems are beautiful little slices of the past, finding core memories in an array of corners, from the memorable to the mundane. A strong debut.

Melanie Power is a Montreal-based writer from Newfoundland. Full Moon of Afraid and Craving is her first book.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ McGill-Queen’s University Press (April 15 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 112 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 022801106X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0228011064

Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.