Moon Talk provides just what its title promises: a chatty, short treatise about the moon - but readers anticipating a scientific discussion might be surprised to discover it offers something different, using a poem/lullaby to explore a poet's wistful observations of lunar moods and his efforts to describe and capture the moon's elusive, enchanting nature.
As free verse juxtaposes science with emotional connections in over fifty pages of lyrical examination, it becomes evident that an appreciation for Moon Talk should, ideally, come from fans of literature as well as science; because the presentation incorporates both.
In choosing such an approach, Moon Talk takes the risk of being 'neither fish nor fowl': poets looking for free verse structure alone may feel stymied when, after fifty pages, the poem is complimented by a section of analysis, while those anticipating a scientific discussion of moon facts will find the long poem format a pleasant surprise; especially if they hold a prior affinity for verse.
But the beauty of this kind of multi-faceted creation is that the 'moon poem' becomes something more than lovely imagery. After creating his story, Stevenson surveys the poetry techniques used to describe the moon, from why hyphenation is a good choice at one point to how different verbs alter the meaning and perception of their subject.
As Stevenson's discussion moves beyond poetic structure to examine the tools of language and the poet's choices in using these devices, so Moon Talk takes an evolutionary path as it examines how meaning is imparted through the poem's style. Teachers of poetry and English should consider Moon Talk's inclusion in any classroom discussion about verse because, more so than most, it uses an accessible and universally appealing topic (the moon) to demonstrate how these choices are made.
Concluding with snippets from other literary observations of the moon, Moon Talk quite simply provides a powerful example of form, usage, poetic license, and interactions between poet/writer and audience. By taking one (long) poem and deconstructing it line by line, Moon Talk achieves what few other literary studies provide: a thorough, in-depth consideration of the poet's toolbox.
Anyone studying the art and craft of poetry in general and free verse in particular would do well to start here. Moon Talk is especially recommended for poets, students, and classrooms studying creative writing and the evolution of meaningful free verse.