Headline Dec 20, 2014/

''' POETRY : 


MARIANNE MOORE,  would often have to perch on the side of the bath to eat her dinner. Their flat being so small  -or

That her mother's frugality meant that one  Thanksgiving   dinner they ate leftover sardines.

Few in the world knew what to make of  Marianne Moore.

By the time she died in  1972   she had been hailed as one of America's  greatest modernist poets. And yet her poetry puzzled most people.

A wave of 1970s  feminist criticism  ignored her. Journalists preferred to characterize her as an eccentric spinster,  fond of wearing a tricorne hat and cape.

Even the poets who adored her found her strange and surprising. William Carlos Williams,  another poet,  once remarked on hearing her laugh : ''How slight a woman can so roar, like a secret Niagara.''

''Holding On Upside Down''  is the first authorised biography. Linda Leavell, an American academic, was granted access to previously unseen archival documents and letters. The result is a thorough examination of a remarkable life.

Moore was born in Missouri in 1887. Soon afterwards,  her father was committed to a psychiatric hospital for religious mania   -he later on cut off his own hand literally interpreting a passage from the Bible.

Her mother, Mary, moved Moore and her older brother, Warner, to Pennsylvania. Seven years after graduating, Moore moved with her mother to New York; they lived together for next 36 years.

The Moore's domestic life was claustrophobic. Everything the poet wrote was read by her mother and scrutinised accordingly'

Although she did not keep a diary, her life is well documented:

When Moore was away from her mother she would send her detailed letters up to 150 pages long. 

Warner wrote regularly to his mother and sister, so much so that he had to hide the fact from his jealous wife. They called each other nick names after characters from the  ''The Wind in the Willows'', a children's book.

When literary figures came to call on Moore, it would be often her mother who did most of the talking.

To escape the smallness of her domestic life Moore wrote poetry.

Her work is expansive where her life was contained. As with her editorials in the Dial, a literary magazine she ran for four years,  Moore sees the potential for art in travel guides, maps, handwriting and folk dancing.

Her sensibility is volubly American, though also often reserved.

In one poem Moore wrote  ''the deepest feeling always shows itself in silence''; as a preface to a collection of her poems, which she revised heavily throughout her life, she declared  ''omissions are not accidents.''

Ms Leavell's biography is in many ways a joy to read. With a keen eye for detail, she seems to miss nothing. But.........

Some aspects of Moore's character remain elusive. Ms Leavell relies heavily on descriptions; whether it is Moore's sitting in the front row of a lecture theatre with a pencil on a string around her neck or

Of silently flushing red with anger when she is a child.

Only at moments does she gesture to Moore's inner life and what she may have felt about her domineering mother. For some this will be disappointment.

''Holding On Upside Down''  is a reminder of a great poet.

Bit it also suggest that Moore has lost none of her mystery.

With most respectful dedication to all the student-poets, and poets in the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' A Poet's Life '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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