Paraphrasing my Academic Advisor’s Review of Grimoire

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If you are just getting to know me and my craft, it is important to note that I am currently a graduate student at Southern New Hampshire University. I am pursuing a Masters in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. My academic advisor, Colin McGahan, gave me input on his favorite poems from Grimoire…so far. I just got off the phone with him and he offered the following feedback. These are poems which stood out to him and I will paraphrase what he told me.

Landmark of Light

Colin told me that this struck a chord with him based on him knowing my backstory as a poet. I started writing poetry a year and a day after 9/11. This poem was written about the 20th anniversary of said tragedy and how I was riding home on the Staten Island Ferry on 9/11/2019 as the lights representing the Twin Towers were glowing. Given that he knows I’m a New Yorker and got to know my backstory, this poem may not have hit him the same if he didn’t know me from Adam. I’m glad that he mentioned this particular one, as it is a sentimental favorite.

VISION QUEST

This poem stood out to Colin because it reminded him of his wife’s grandfather. I wrote this as a tribute to my father; as I recalled a memory of us releasing two catfish into Martling’s Pond in Clove Lakes Park (Staten Island). As the poem progresses, I mention two fishermen talking about finding catfish in the pond and thought about how they must have spawned and repopulated the pond. Colin reminisced about his father-in-law and looked at his soul and memory both fondly and wistfully.

WILLOW IN THE WIND

Colin’s daughter is fond of weeping willows, so this immediately stood out to him. In this poem, I was inspired by a quote from Bruce Lee (“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”) Many know that my title is Wizard of Willow. This is because I practice magick and frequent Willowbrook Park (Staten Island) on a regular basis. Naturally, I connect to this particular tree for this reason. Also, I relate to the resilience of the tree. I have been through a lot of adversity in my life and weeping willows represent how I’ve moved at times where I could have been broken. Colin read this piece to his daughter and she loved it. This is especially profound since his family is moving and there is a weeping willow near their future property.

WHEN YOU CAN’T DREAM

This poem reminded Colin of his issues with sleep paralysis. This is one condition I certainly do not wish upon anybody. I wrote this poem in relation to the uncomfortable sleep I was having during the very beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic in April of 2020. It also relates to having a mental health diagnosis (bipolar disorder) and trying to maintain balance during a time where the planet is greatly unbalanced. Colin mentioned he was afflicted with the aforementioned condition and how much of a struggle it can be to sleep and even more of a struggle to dream. I was really glad he related to this, especially since I am in a group on Facebook called Quarantine Dreams.

More to come…

Review of Grimoire by Ghia Vitale, senior editor of Quail Bell Magazine

Poetry Book Review: Grimoire by Jacob Moses

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Grimoire by Jacob Moses offers a unique, poetic blend of magick, nature, and Jewish spirituality you can’t find elsewhere. This book is the biggest and best poetry collection that Moses has released to this date.


Quail Bell is no stranger to the poetry of Jacob Moses. He is a poet from Staten Island, New York who excels at written poetry and spoken word alike. He’s also a wizard who expresses himself and his spirituality through his poetry. Moses embraces poetry as a form of magick as well as a tool for growth and healing. On top of all that, he’s currently pursuing an MA in English and Creative Writing with a poetry concentration at Southern New Hampshire University. Thus, it’s safe to say that Moses has a way with words.

If poetry is an extension of the person who writes it, then each copy of his books contains more than a generous slab of Jacob Moses’ soul. Furthermore, Grimoire is the most soulful poetry book he’s released so far, which makes it the most sizable piece of his soul he’s ever published. For those who don’t know: The word “grimoire” refers to a book of spells. While this book isn’t a literal grimoire in the traditional sense, each poem is a spell in its own right. All of the poems sparkle with the wisdom and insight he’s gathered as a wizard navigating the world as it currently is.

In August 2020, I reviewed Seance, a chapbook of his that also focuses heavily on magick, nature, and his expressions of Jewish mysticism. Earlier that year, I reviewed Art Therapy 101, a chapbook that emphasizes the importance of symbols, mental health, and creativity. In 2019, I reviewed …and the willow smiled, another chapbook where his personal, intimate voice, nature, and Jewish spirituality shine through the poems. Grimoire is his newest poetry book, and it includes some of the poems from his previous chapbooks along with his more recent poetry. All in all, the poems in this book are personal, passionate, and original.

Grimoire is divided into 8 sections: “Creatures”, “Herbology”, “Incantations”, “Demonology”, “Rituals”, “Visions”, “Transfiguration”, and “Prophecies”. Each section contains poetry that relates to its label in some way. If you’re interested in reading poetry by someone who practices their own eclectic version of Jewish magick, then look no further than this book. Reading it will teach you not only about magick from his perspective, but also how to use poetry to cultivate and express your own magick. After all, magick is part of Moses’ everyday life.

I’ve always enjoyed how Moses writes and publishes poems about birds. As a witch, I’ve always felt spiritually connected to birds. As such, I often rely on them for divination and messages. Fortunately, there are multiple bird poems in here, all of which relate to Moses’ life, magick, and spiritual practices. “Ova” is a longtime favorite of mine because it frames birds as spiritual messengers and sources of wisdom.

Mentally, his poetic voice and creativity often take you places you hadn’t previously considered going before. For instance, “This is Only a Test” compares life to a television test screen. There’s also a poem called “Calecovision” that summons haunting nostalgia by centering CalecoVision, the old school game console that was released in August of 1982. He even features “Love Poem to Amélie Poulain”, a love poem dedicated to the protagonist of Amélie. With all of this in mind, that’s why I believe Grimoire is a magical experience for those who approach its pages seeking variety as much as spiritual/magical themes.

I encourage you, the reader, to buy your own copy of Grimoire through Tonii Inc. Also, follow Jacob Moses on Facebook and Instagram to get more updates about his writing. It’ll make a good holiday present for a loved one who enjoys poetry.

-Ghia Vitale, poet/editor

Review of Grimoire by slam poet M.A. Dennis

grimoire
is a fine collection of poetry put together by Jacob R. Moses — the poem “herbal eruption” is one of my faves; its fiery theme reminds me of Audre Lorde’s “write fire” mission statement. And I appreciate the care & thought put into this book, even a small detail like providing the reader with the phonetic pronunciation of the title.

-M.A. Dennis

Review of Grimoire by Peruvian poet, Rocío Uchofen

The etymology of Grimoire goes back to the Greek “gramma” ( letter) and the Latin “Grammática” (grammar) The word itself names a book of spells and takes us to remote Gothic times where the words and their permutations were powerful enough to make changes. Poems are made of words, words create images. Grateful to read @jacobreubenmoses poetry of change and wisdom, his Grimoire finds the magic scene and the words to transmit us beautiful, foretelling images like the poem “Vision Quest”: “ My father’s legacy exists in Martling’s Pond…” #newpoetrybook #statenislandpoets #statenislandpoetry #poetsofinstagram

-Rocío Uchofen, poet

Review of Grimoire by poet/visual artist Kyoko Heshiimu

“Jacob R. Moses is a self proclaimed wizard, whose collection of poetry ‘Grimoire’ exemplifies a mystical and magical feel from the cover of the book to the words spoken inside. He speaks through his own experiences of addiction and depression, while battling his inner demons to embrace a sense of inner spirituality. One of my favorite poems, ‘Anthems,’ reads as a self mantra where he is assuring himself he is in control. His poems can feel at times like dreams – structured around themes of animals and plants, as well as emotional struggles and growth. His ancestors are mentioned throughout guiding him as he delves into his self healing through the chaos in his head. I was taken away by how his words sound like spells being cast into the air when spoken out loud -‘Sueños oscuros; somos la única luz’ as heard in the lines from his poem ‘Medianoche.’ I found myself reading the poems straight through and was astonished by how smoothly each topic aligned with the theme of each chapter connecting the whole feel of the book and its majestic concept. I couldn’t recommend this book any more. It is a wonderful body of work and I am proud to include it on my shelf next to all the other authors of his caliber.”

-Kyoko Heshiimu, poet/visual artist

Review of Grimoire by novelist Ray Melnik

“I just finished [‘grimoire’] by Jacob R. Moses, and faster than intended. It was laid out well and was interest catching in the sections to the point that I soon read it all. I’ve enjoyed work by this poet before, but this went beyond the poems to an interesting theme of a book of magic. The look of the book itself continued the theme. So, under the various sections: Incantations, rituals, visions and many others, were the poems to read as magic. They are, and I recommend [‘grimoire’]”

-Ray Melnik, novelist