The Whole Singing Ocean

By Jessica Moore

The Whole Singing Ocean
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Sparked by the eye of a whale, The Whole Singing Ocean plunges us into memory, magic, ecological grief and the true story of a boat school.

Part long poem, part investigation, the book explores the affair of the École en bateau, a French countercultural school. The École was ... Read more


Overview

Sparked by the eye of a whale, The Whole Singing Ocean plunges us into memory, magic, ecological grief and the true story of a boat school.

Part long poem, part investigation, the book explores the affair of the École en bateau, a French countercultural school. The École was inspired by the ideals of ’68 and the theories of Foucault, promising adventure and freedom from the hierarchies of everyday life. One of the aims on board was to abolish the separation between adults and children. As more troubling details are uncovered, Moore’s poetic inquiry is nudged along by an irreverent voice, foil to the narrator’s lyricism, and ultimately leads her toward echoes and traces in her own life and family history.

Dreams and transgression, sailor slang and the sacred, binaries and song underscore this book. At the heart of The Whole Singing Ocean is the question, How is it possible to hold two very different things—rapture and pain—at once?

Reviews

The Whole Singing Ocean is a narrative poem of immensities rising from the deep: whales, microplastics, acoustic smog, grief, rapture, abuse. This book does the deep and winding work, the honest and sometimes horrifying, always courageous work of healing. Like the long lines of whale songs, Moore’s polyvocal, lyric tale arrives in “pulses and pings and clicks of rhythm / rapturous and piercing at once. ” Where the glittering eye of the ancient mariner holds the wedding guest rapt, this tale issues from the massive eye of a whale. This is a gorgeous book.

Lush, clear-eyed and insightful. .. a luminous poem.

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