Blood Moon

“Kirkpatrick’s poems give us the world as it truly is.” —JIM MOORE
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“Why would I expect to feel blameless?”

Troubled and meditative, Blood Moon is an examination of racism, whiteness, and language within one woman’s life. In these poems, words are deeply powerful, even if—with the onset of physical infirmity—they sometimes become unfixed and inaccessible, bringing together moral and mortal peril as Patricia Kirkpatrick’s speaker ages. From a child, vulnerable to “words / we learned / outside and in school, / at home, on television”: “Some words you don’t say / but you know.” To a citizen, reckoning with contemporary police brutality: “Some days need a subject and an action / or a state of being because it’s grammar. / The cop shot. The man was dead.” And to a patient recovering from brain surgery: “I don’t have names. / Words are not with me.”

Throughout the collection, the moon plays companion to this speaker, as it moves through its own phases, disappearing behind one poem before appearing fully in the next. In Kirkpatrick’s hands, the moon is confessor, guide, muse, mirror, and—most of all—witness, to the cruelty that humans inflict upon one another. “The moon,” she reminds us, “will be there.”

Compassionate, contemplative, occasionally wonderstruck, Blood Moon is a moving work of moral introspection.

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5.5 × 8.5 × 0.25 in
6 oz

Patricia Kirkpatrick

Patricia Kirkpatrick is the author of Blood Moon as well as Odessa, which was awarded the first Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry and the 2013 Minnesota Book Award. Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Loft Literary Center, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She has taught writing at many colleges, most recently in the University of Minnesota MFA program. She lives in Saint Paul.

Praise and Prizes

  • “Patricia Kirkpatrick’s splendid new book, Blood Moon, carries us away to so many places and helps us ‘see farther’ indeed, even asking our most present questions. What comes next? Who knows what?”

    Naomi Shihab Nye
    New York Times Magazine
  • “These poems are quiet, awash in subtlety and beauty. At the same time, they tackle injustice, racism, immigration, and the vulnerability of children. Days after reading Blood Moon my thoughts return to the coyote whose “rash fur” the narrator kept seeking after it was gone. In that line, and throughout Blood Moon, Patricia Kirkpatrick shares moments of recognition that haunt and resonate. Consume this book slowly and savor it.”

    Frances Phillips
  • “The stark, looking-back poems in this collection show painfully how an earlier era—subject to status quo preferences and complacency—foreshadows our own era of discord and uncertainty. These poems realize with great poignancy how threads in the earlier veil were already beginning to fray. This is a book about many realities, but its widest reach is to register the contrast between what we were taught when young, and what we somehow knew all along.”

    Maurice Manning
  • “Few books of contemporary poetry have both the passion and the precision of Patricia Kirkpatrick’s Blood Moon. I’m in awe of Kirkpatrick’s ability to reconcile conviction with openness. Her poems counter the injustices of our time not with rhetoric but with abiding curiosity, cunning resourcefulness. Asking herself and her reader, ‘how do you know, how do you/ever know,’ Kirkpatrick returns us to the particularity of words themselves—of syllables even. While examining the duplicities of language, the barbed difficulties, the histories of hurt, Kirkpatrick at the same time renews that language. Poems such as ‘Learning to Read, 1963,’ ‘Lessons,’ ‘Oboe Notes,’ and ‘Poem without a Subject’ restore my faith in the art of poetry. This is a vital collection from a poet with a tremendous gift.”

    Peter Campion
  • “In Blood Moon, Patricia Kirkpatrick gives us a childhood of unremarked racial events recaptured in adulthood for their larger meaning. She observes the unholy partnership of denials that paradoxically acknowledge the presence of racism. When the poet reflects on the presence of the moon, it is as easily a nod to the privilege and costs of whiteness in adulthood as to witness. Blood Moon evokes the connection and influence of the moon’s tides, from the border to the Philippines to the intimacy and fogginess of recovery from brain surgery, wondering at the birth of a new generation.”

    Mary Moore Easter