Arts & Life

Emily Moore On How She Became A Poet

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For National Poetry Month, young poet Emily Moore talks about how she got into poetry and why poetry is still relevant. She teaches English at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares and The Yale Review. In 2004, she received a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship.


April is National Poetry Month and to celebrate, WEEKEND EDITION is talking with younger poets about their experience with poetry and why they still feel it's important in our everyday lives.

EMILY MOORE: My name's Emily Moore, and I'm a poet. Among other things, I'm also a classroom teacher. I teach high school English. I think one of the things that I love about poetry - and that maybe all writers of poems love - is that there's a message-in-a-bottle quality to poems. We love, as writers, to imagine readers discovering the right poem at the right time.

So when I was younger, I used to copy down poems. One poem that I copied, that I eventually put up on my wall, you know, my dorm room wall, was by Jody Gladding. It was this totally obscure poem called "Locust Shell." Fast forward maybe five years later, I was a teacher in New York. A man who then was older than me - now I think he was probably about 30 - came and was observing classes at my school, and he observed my class.

And after class, he said oh, you teach poetry - you know - what poets do you like? And I randomly said oh - you know - I'm obsessed with this poem called "Locust Shell," by Jody Gladding, but no one knows who she is. And he said, oh, that's my sister.


MOORE: There's a charming way that poems travel, so I hope that things I write sort of, you know, go out into the sunny world. When I'm not writing or teaching poetry, I'm in a band. Actually, one of my college mentors was the writer Paul Muldoon, and he has a band called The Racket. And I, too - perhaps secretly because of his influence - I'm in an all-girl, country camp trio called Menage a Twang.


MOORE: We play silly songs about love and real estate in New York City. So it's a use of my rhyming and poetic skills.


MOORE: So this poem is called "Crazy Right Now," and the title is from the wonderful Beyonce. "Crazy right now." (Reading) How six months, later Mike called Anne in tears at 6:00 a.m. from rain smears Chelsea Street with Elliot long gone. And Anne raised at the Cineplex when Megan took some space and Meg's mom tore off all her clothes and walked into the yard the night her husband left. And I ran hard through freezing rain in just a sweatshirt when Jenn left me for her ex.

The asphalt slick, wet hair streaking my face when Carter pulled me to his chest so close I couldn't breathe. Said let's get you a drink and led me towards a basement bar then flipped his way through plastic jukebox sleeves. So many loves; so many griefs.

SIMON: That was poet and high school English teacher, Emily Moore. She read her poem, "Crazy Right Now." This is NPR News.


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