September 17, 2013

Poet Julie L. Moore Talks Writing, Reading & Inspiration

I’d like to welcome Julie L. Moore to the blog this week, an accomplished writer and poet. Moore is the author of Particular Scandals, published in The Poiema Poetry Series by Cascade Books in 2013. Her other books include Slipping Out of Bloom (WordTech Editions, 2010) and Election Day (Finishing Line Press, 2006). A Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Moore has had her poetry published in Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Journal, Atlanta Review, CALYX, Cimarron Review, The Missouri Review Online, Nimrod, Poetry Daily, The Southern Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Verse Daily. 

On Writing

My favorite part of writing is also the hardest part: Revision. Although I love the moment of inspiration like everyone else does, revision is what allows me endless opportunities to play with language, trying different words, exploiting their connotations and denotations, finding just the right one to evoke the mood and imagery and music the poem needs. Plus, that initial draft actually terrifies me. What will I write on the next line? How do I keep the poem going? That’s hard work—just as hard as revision—but in revision, the language chosen has a chance. In first drafts, I know I’ll be changing so much later on, it’s hard to commit to the idea by even writing it. I think this is why I sometimes ignore poetry ideas and won’t write them down. My inner critic is too negative and too bossy! Thankfully, my Muse silence her often enough so I can write.

On Inspiration

The idea for my most recent book of poetry, Particular Scandals, released in June of 2013, was inspired by my life experiences, to be sure, as well as by many walks along my rural road in southwest Ohio. In addition, a passage in Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek ended up serving as an epigraph for my book along with a quotation from George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Because I’ve endured much pain and many surgeries, as have some of my family members and friends, I wanted to write about that endurance, something I see as the balancing act between transcendence, which tends to downplay the particular, physical world in which we all live, and despair, which is often characterized by wallowing in the suffering. So I wanted to juxtapose the agonizing forms of suffering many, including myself, have experienced with blessing, joy, and wonder. Although not referenced in any way in the book, Jane Kenyon’s poem “Happiness” was definitely in the back of my mind because Kenyon was so adept at delivering such gorgeously wrought juxtapositions. I also wanted to explore theological and metaphysical questions to see where they’d lead me. The book is able to hold all this together, I think, because of the themes regarding particular, stark scandals that lead to suffering and death and particular, beautiful scandals that lead to wonder and worship. I wanted to explore the paradox of those two kinds of scandals existing simultaneously in one place or one person, too.

On Reading

I enjoy reading all genres—memoirs, biographies, and other forms of nonfiction such as Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City and Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; novels; short stories; plays; essays and creative nonfiction pieces; and of course, poetry. I just love to read! Some of my favorite authors include Jane Austen, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, Lucille Clifton, and Denise Levertov. Of those writers still living and working, I have been influenced by many poets, including, but certainly not limited to, Maxine Kumin, Mary Oliver, Donald Hall, Sharon Olds, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Rita Dove, Stephen Dunn, and Claudia Emerson. It’s ridiculous how many books (and journals) sit by my bed. I always seem to be reading several books at once. Right now, I’m reading Jeanne Murray Walker’s memoir, Geography of Memory, Geraldine Brooks’ novel March, and books of poetry by Susanna Childress, Sally Rosen Kindred, Paula Bohince, and Maurice Manning. And I recently finished Annie Dillard’s novel The Maytrees as well as Willa Cather’s My Ántonia.

On What’s Next 

I keep writing poems, and that’s about all I can say about my next book. Many of my recent poems are ekphrastic, as they respond to art, literature, and myths, and this is something I really enjoy writing. I’m also writing some persona poems—from the point of view of a stone in a field or a magpie on a fence, for instance. And I like that direction, too. I find myself trying to write myself—my first person point of view—out of poems lately. I like what I’m seeing in terms of discoveries I’m making. But I have no idea what the next book’s themes will be yet or what it’ll look like. I don’t write with a book in mind; I just write as the poems come to me. Then, after a few years, I look them all over and see if anything hangs together thematically. I’d love to write creative nonfiction pieces. One day, I hope to try my hand at that genre. I don’t see myself ever writing a novel, though, because it just seems too unwieldy to attempt! 

Check out Julie's book below: 

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