Sleeping on the Moon
Awards & Reviews
Sleeping on the Moon was runner-up for the Scott-Lampman Award, 2007
SLEEPING ON THE MOON by SYLVIA ADAMS
In poem after poem, brimming with a rich variety of voices, emotions and vivid geographical and historical details, Sylvia Adams picks up the nineteenth century British obsession with finding the sources of the Nile. From her rescue by Samuel from a slave market, to her crossings of Africa, her arrival in England and her eventual loss of Sam, Florence's rich and turbulent times pass before us, showing how the pair successfully survived fever, starvation, chieftains, climate, hostility and impossible terrain.
Poems on animals, trees and recurrent images of wings, water and moon deepen the journey. African and English characters such as Saat, Katchiba, Bokke, Henrietta, Mr. Grant and Mr. Speke give the book the resonance of a novel. Using the simple and haunting line, "every river conjures up the Nile," the book closes with a beautiful villanelle which looks back on all that Florence has lived and lost. Indeed, a wonderful, realistic and exotic story, woven beneath an evocative cover designed by Ben Chung and brought to life in the crafted lines of an accomplished poet.
By Glenn Kletke, Field Stone Poet and South Asian Educational Consultant.
A language I'll never learn
(from Sleeping on the Moon, p. 131)
Most bookstores in Ontario, and from the publisher.
"In 1859, widowed adventurer and explorer Samuel Baker purchased a beautiful young woman, Florence von Sass, at a Turkish slave auction. A refugee, Florence had witnessed the slaughter of her father and brothers during the Hungarian uprising years earlier and had fled across the Danube. With Sam Baker as companion and lover, she traveled Africa in the 1860s seeking a source of the Nile.
An independent and strong-hearted woman, Florence faces heat fever, near-starvation and harsh, often-impenetrable terrain with spirit and resourcefulness. This story soars under Adams's deft lyrical hand as the poems transport the reader into the midst of this remarkable journey. Sleeping on the Moon creates a poetic biography that has the breadth and scope of an unforgettable life. This story of exploration has much to tell us about how we, even to this day, choose not to see Africa on its own terms.
Keats was transported by reading Chapman's translation of Homer. After reading Sylvia Adams's poetry, I know the feeling. Adams knows how to make history strange and to transport her readers to new places. She also loves working with narrative and personae. Prepare to meet slaves and effendi, camel drivers and tribal chieftains, mad dogs and Englishmen in an Africa where Gwendolyn McEwen would have felt right at home."
... Gary Geddes - poet, writer, editor and critic