November 15 ~  Poetry Watches Life Illusion Is More Precise Than Precision

"Poetry watches life with affection." ~ Marianne Moore

Marianne Moore

Honored poet Marianne Craig Moore (1887-1972) was born on this day in Kirkwood, Missouri. The daughter of a school teacher, Marianne began writing poetry as a child.

"Poetry is a peerless proficiency of the imagination," she once said.

She moved to New York after college, became a librarian, and began meeting with William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens to discuss their mutual love of poetry. In 1924, she won the prestigious Dial Award for her book Observations.

Writing with a dry sense of humor, she observed in Marriage: "Psychology, which explains everything,/ Explains nothing,/ And we are still in doubt."

With precise words, Moore worked through single images, expanding and celebrating the vastness of simplicity, the accuracy of precision. Within each poem, Moore planted a moral message, calling for heroism and grace. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her Collected Poems in 1951.

Bold and articulate, more than a "modernist" and unwilling to be pigeon-holed, she said, "I see no reason for calling my work poetry except that there is no other category in which to put it."

A passionate fan of Muhammad Ali and baseball, dressed in her signature black cape, Moore threw out the first pitch of the season at Yankee Stadium in 1968. She was 80.

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