David Sam’s Reviews > Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore

David Sam’s Reviews > Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore

Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne MooreHolding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore by Linda Leavell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leavell’s account of the life and work of Marianne Moore raised some objections that it was unfair to Moore’s mother. The Moore family dynamics were certainly off. But Leavell adds to the case that Moore was one of our most significant American poets.

Moore wrote without regard to labels. She was a Modernist who used a precise syllabic form and rhymes. She was a defender of the underdog, an early white champion of civil rights and of black artists and athletes who also voted Republican and defended LBJ’s continuing the Vietnam War, the latter mainly so as not to abandon the South Vietnamese. She wrote “advertising” verse and patriotic poems during WWII. She was raised by lesbians and then denigrated by second wave feminists.

Her poetry must be read and dealt with if you care about American poetry. Her carefully controlled poems were often described as emotionless and overly intellectual. In truth, she was able to contain deep emotion and thought in precise verse, a skill and aesthetic often not practiced or appreciated since the Confessionals came along.

A fascinating biography. No there are no fireworks or is there physical violence. But there is emotional violence and the heroic strength of a small woman with a large vision and poetic craft.

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