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About this poet

Jim Moore was born on June 22, 1943, in Decatur, Illinois. He began writing in the mid-1960s and received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He then began teaching at a junior college in Moline, Illinois. After witnessing his students get drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, Moore decided he wouldn’t continue to accept the teachers’ deferment. He sent his draft card back and refused his conscription; consequentially, he was sent to prison for ten months in 1970. While there, he taught a poetry class to his fellow inmates, an experience that is addressed in his first three books.

In 1975, Moore experienced another life-changing incident. He was at LaGuardia Airport when a bomb exploded, leaving twelve dead. Moore wrote, “Since then, I have felt that life is much more than the interruption of plot than about plot. What choice did my poetry have, but to reshape itself around these interruptions? I try to see as clearly—even calmly—as I can how things are. Sadness is at the heart of this clarity, but strangely, consolation as well.”

In 1976, Moore received a grant from the Bush Foundation, allowing him to travel Europe and live in London for several months. That year Moore also published his first book of poems, The New Body (University of Pittsburgh Press). Since then, he has published a number of poetry collections, including Underground: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2014), Invisible Strings (Graywolf Press, 2011), and Lightning at Dinner (Graywolf Press, 2005).

According to the New York Times review of Underground: New and Selected Poems, “Jim Moore’s poems are an artful amalgam of humor and fierce attention, suffused by a passion for ancient Asian poetry. Like his sage poet-teachers he grasps the quiet power of white space, knowing that what is unsaid is often just as crucial as what is.”

Poet C. K. Williams writes, “Jim Moore writes of history, of love, of pain, of the intimate revelations of a consciousness alive to itself.”

Moore has won four Minnesota Book Awards and the 2002 Loft-McKnight Award in poetry and has received grants from the Bush Foundation, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Boards. He has twice served as the Edelstein-Keller Distinguished Visiting Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and is a teacher in the MFA program in Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, as well as a frequent visiting professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. He divides his time between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Spoleto, Italy.


Selected Bibliography

Underground: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2014)
Invisible Strings (Graywolf Press, 2011)
Lightning at Dinner (Graywolf Press, 2005)
The Long Experience of Love (Milkweed Editions, 1995)
The Freedom of History (Milkweed Editions, 1988)
The New Body (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976)

Love in the Ruins

1
          I remember my mother toward the end,

folding the tablecloth after dinner
          so carefully,
as if it were the flag
          of a country that no longer existed,
but once had ruled the world.

 

2
          7 A.M. and the barefoot man

leaves his lover's house
          to go back to his basement room
across the alley. I nod hello,
          continuing to pick
the first small daffodils
          which just yesterday began to bloom.

 

3
          Helicopter flies overhead

reminding me of that old war
          where one friend lost his life,
one his mind,
          and one came back happy
to be missing only an unnecessary finger.

 

4
          I vow to write five poems today,

look down and see a crow
          rising into thick snow on 5th Avenue
as if pulled by invisible strings,
          and already
there is only one to go.

 

5
          Survived

another winter: my black stocking cap,
          my mismatched gloves,
my suspicious, chilly heart.

Copyright © 2014 Jim Moore. This poem originally appeared in Underground: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2014). Used with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2014 Jim Moore. This poem originally appeared in Underground: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2014). Used with permission of the author.

 

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Jim Moore was born on June 22, 1943, in Decatur, Illinois. He began writing in the mid-1960s and received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His poetry collections include Underground: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2014), Invisible Strings (Graywolf Press, 2011), and Lightning at Dinner (Graywolf Press, 2005).

by this poet

poem

1

Before going to bed I take off my bracelet. It is meant to protect me. A dancer gave it to me: for decades she has known sorrow and beauty. Beloveds have come and gone. Mountains and forest fires. Lives that might have lived through her, but didn’t. Lives that do still live through her. I go to sleep,

poem
1

    No, I don't know

the way to get there.
    Two empty suitcases sit in the corner,
if that's any kind of clue.

2

    This spring night,

everyone at the party
    younger than me
except for one man.
    We give each other the secret password.

3

    Tears? Of course, but also the
poem
this being unnoticed. Sitting like this
           next to the stone lamb outside the Cathedral.
My lost soul, which prefers the stone lamb
           to the living God. Prefers these deep shadows
to the summer day. The way he took me
           all those years ago, shattered me
so that fifty-seven years later, I