Jim Moore lives in St. Paul, Minn., and Spoleto,
Italy. His seventh book of poems,
Invisible Strings, was published April
2011 by Graywolf Press. Poems in this volume were published in Harper's, the New Yorker, the Paris Review and other
On your nightstand now:
The Gardens of Kyoto by Kate Walbert, an amazing novel about love,
American history, death, and beauty: all the great subjects!
On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay by Robert Creeley ("Oh life, oh miracle of / Day to day existence, sun,
food and others!")
But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer, a semi-fictional recreation of the lives
and artistry of jazz musicians, a deeply peculiar and truly astonishing book.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Lemon Jelly Cake by Madeline Babcock Smith. Her first (and only) novel,
published when she was 65. It was an immediate bestseller and for good reason:
it tells the story of life at the turn of the 20th century in a small town in
Illinois from the point of view of a precocious and highly lovable young girl
whose parents' marriage may or may not be on the rocks. I loved it. (Did I
mention that the author was my grandmother?)
Your top five (or nine!) authors:
list changes all the time. But right now: Yannis Ritsos, Du Fu, Jack Gilbert,
W.S. Merwin, Wislawa Symborska, Linda Gregg, Jane Hirshfield, Santoka Taneda,
Book you've faked reading:
Remembrance of Things
Past. I begin it anew each time with great
enthusiasm and each time find myself distracted by the world beyond its pages.
Book you're an evangelist for:
many! These days, Late at Night by the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos. It's a
book of short poems written near the end of life. Even though his health was
collapsing and the political life of his country was in a shambles, he wrote
with such joy, love and amazement about the world he was about to leave behind.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Here by Wislawa Symborska. Okay, I would have bought it
anyway, but would have agonized over buying it in hardcover. The cover is a
photograph of her with eyes closed and a big smile on her face, sitting at a
table with a cup of coffee on the table, a cigarette in her hand. Her sleeves
are rolled up, as if ready to get to work. The smile on her face is absolute
bliss. I am entirely in love with the woman in this photograph.
Book that changed your life:
addition to the Rexroth book I talk about below, I would also say Silence in
the Snowy Fields by Robert Bly. I read it as a very young man, and his
almost mystical devotion to his Minnesota landscape, to the people he loved and
to the inner life as it manifested itself in his poems made a huge impact.
Favorite line and one-half from a book:
there is no place/ that does not see you. You must change your life"--by
Rilke from his poem "Archaic Torso of Apollo."
This sums up, for me, the work and the
pleasure of poetry, both reading and writing it: there is always that
possibility for transformation. (Plus, Gena Rowlands quotes these lines
in a great moment from Woody Allen's movie Another Woman.)
Book you most want to read again for
the first time:
The Collected Shorter
Poems of Kenneth Rexroth. I
read it 44 years ago, sitting on the floor of a bookstore in Norman, Okla.
It was the first book of contemporary poetry which completely stole my heart. I
had no idea that poetry by a living poet could speak so powerfully to me; that
I could learn so much from it, be challenged so deeply by it. It was a powerful
example of a group of poems saying to me, "You must change your life."
And that's just what I did after finishing Rexroth's book: I knew from that
moment on that I wanted to write poetry.
Book you'd take with you to a desert
Remembrance of Things
Past, of course. And this time I'll really