Review – ‘Two Birds, All Moon’ by Alexus Erin

I was given a digital copy of this book by the author.

Alexus Erin’s chapbook Two Birds, All Moon is a delightful adventure into the everyday using rich, sumptuous language. Moments taken from daily life are sketched out on paper; they leave the reader wide-eyed and wondering at the beauty in the mundane. 

Erin has a remarkable gift for language and her poetry has a lyrical, melodious flow. Her writing uses a concise yet sophisticated register, combining imagery in unusual and effective ways to create a sensory mood:
I keep my fingers crossed slow dancing
anticipating a regrettable pull,
a new dark orbit.

She knows where to find the evocative, and how to mine a single image from multiple angles and select just the right details to create subtle, layered meaning.
Its rain-soaked hem trailing
toward the altar
and lifting dust from the chapel floor

This is a sophisticated style of poetry. Alexus uses line breaks to great effect, keeping her words in tight units of expression that are gifted multiple meanings by their positioning. The reader is encouraged to revisit each piece, perhaps reading aloud, to hear how the breaking of phrases allows the poet to convey a layered message:
I am starting to understand 
an army like that
to turn the tide, 

as surely we know there is a tide to turn

Despite the intensity of the images and the sweet sorrow many of them convey, there are moments of light-hearted humour in these poems as well. These present beautiful breathing opportunities, without dulling the work. The reader is still engaged intellectually with the work at every turn – there is no filler here. Every poem makes the reader work, think, explore, consider. There is an immediacy too, a quiet urgency – Erin’s poetry takes your hand and pulls you forward, pointing out to you all the things you’re missing, opening your eyes to the world. It’s an intense reading experience all the way through.

Two Birds, All Moon is a stellar example of contemporary poetry. Not simplified, it expects the reader to rise to meet it, traversing the breadth of modern language. Strong, vivid images make for a relatable and rewarding read. This is the kind of poetry you will return to again and again – to marvel at its technique, to interpret and reinterpret its meaning, to strengthen your understanding of craft. Fans of Erin’s previous work will not be disappointed, and those looking for outstanding modern voices would do well to listen here. 

Two Birds, All Moon is available now from Gap Riot Press.

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