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Morgan Toll
Craving Stardust
Craving Stardust is a poetry book that was put together from excerpts of letters and diary entries that reveal the in-depth emotions of loving someone unconditionally. With LGBTQ+ themes and raw devotions of passion and loss, the book is a hope to completely capture a moment in time and to grasp those feelings within the fibers of each page so that whoever reads them will feel the immense electricity and beauty within them and know for certain that they are not alone.
Drawing from diary entries and letter excerpts, Toll (The Daydreamers) crafts an urgent collection of poetry around a striking comparison: She likens the essence of a lost love, the "you" her lines directly address, to that of the “galaxies and the stars” in a universe that’s not “grand enough to hold the extent of your wonder.” These are poems of effusive, ecstatic symbolism, as Toll likens her lover to stardust or declares “You're beautiful in a way that is/ dangerous.../that haunts and teases.” Rabuñal's striking illustrations bring additional life to Toll’s cosmic imagery while playfully interacting with the verse on the page. Craving Stardust also courses with darker feeling, as readers discover that the poet’s beloved is with someone else, and Toll laments “...I'll never/ have the privilege to tire of your/ morning eyes.” Much of the book captures the poet coping with the lost love’s absence -- not with regret, but with gratitude.

A work of intimate intensity, of joy and sorrow and “the gravity of knowing” someone now gone, Craving Stardust holds little back. It’s hard to imagine anyone living up to the praise Toll heaps on her lost love, but readers will find the book less about this specific person than the universal feelings she inspired, feelings Toll is compelled to celebrate and examine in verse. “I am/ passionately compelled to do everything/ in my power to share your light with the/ world,” Toll writes.

Toll continually finds surprising new variations on her theme and her astronomical imagery (“the lightning in her veins”), while Rabuñal makes the dreamy, mystical qualities of her text concrete with richly evocative images. Readers will perceive a sense of joyous wonder in the author’s voice throughout this stirring testament to the power of love and the courage it takes to share one’s loss, passion, and vulnerability with the world.

Takeaway: This intensely personal and emotional work of poetry will be relatable to anyone who's ever loved and lost.

Great for fans of: Marilyn Hacker's Love, Death, And The Changing Of The Seasons, Adrienne Rich's The Dream Of a Common Language

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B