Catherine Moore

467Moore_Catherine_COVStory (Finishing Line Press, 2015)

What are some of your favorite chapbooks? Why?

The last one I read, typically. Like a short story, a poetry chapbook is easy to fit into busy days. I love reading experiences where I become immersed in a single thread of thought and linger for a while. The chapbooks I remember most are ones such as Kathleen Kirk’s Interior Sculpture (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), a series of poems in the voice of Camille Claudel. I suppose my favorite reads suggest that I enjoy cohesion and thematic subjects.

Please describe your collection of poetry.

Story is a series of narrative poems that explores resilient stories found in seemingly quiet moments. This collection seeks to observe the small but significant things around our world and in our own lives, and to record it in variety. I arranged individual poems to complement each other and to hold their own, as if everyday the book can beckon, “come here and let me tell you a story.”

How long did you work on the poems in this collection? Or can you name one piece that catalyzed or inspired the rest of the chapbook?

I’m not certain about timeframes; they were written over a span of years. Some poems I estimate were begun about four years ago. At that time, I did not set out with the intention of writing a chapbook; this collection originated by finding a familiar narrative voice in the poetry within my notebooks. In reading some of my narrative poetry, I noticed a pattern of menial tasks and an expression that in these moments, we still find art and poetry around us. This broadened into more poems about the small and significant, until I eventually reduced the collection into the poems I felt did a unique job in distilling variations on the theme ‘story.’

To what degree did you collaborate on the cover image and design of your chapbook?

I have a friend, Mandy Gist, who is a wonderful photographer and worked with me on the cover. She and I brainstormed over the various imagery present in these poems and how that might be staged for the camera, then I gave her free reign to pursue what moved her on film. She pulled the visual image of a laundromat dryer from one of the poems and wiped the book title into steam on the inside glass. In the final choice it was between this photo and one of a bowl of Alphabits cereal that spelled out STORY, but the selected cover image seemed to speak to the fleetingness in our life stories, echoed in many of the poems. And it was my fiancée’s favorite since it supported his personal philosophy of circuitry — laundry is life.

What is your writing practice or process? Do you have a favorite prompt or revision technique? What is it?

I try to avoid technology as much as possible in the creative process. I begin nearly everything I write with pen and paper. I wander nomadically for that day’s best writing spot—inside, outside, in between. When something I’ve written feels solid, or the hieroglyphics of my arrows and crisscrossing begin to confuse me, I switch to a keyboard for the editing process. When I feel the writing is finished, it sits. I think the key ingredient to good writing is marination. A toss, and a cut, then more waiting.

Which piece is the “misfit” in your collection and why?

“The While”may be a misfit of sorts, since it is about the lack of story. The waiting periods, when we feel life is in a holding pattern, life moves around us not through us. Sometimes no story is the story. Months that appear frustratingly empty are often a time of hibernation, rejuvenation, and recovery. I felt this should be included.

Is there a question you wish you would have been asked about your chapbook? How would you answer it?

Yes, you may have a free copy if you treat the author out to dinner at the Cork & Cow.

What advice would you offer to an aspiring chapbook author?

Read as many as you can to understand who is publishing the work you like and to gain an appreciation for the creative focus that a small collection offers.

What are you working on now?

Poetry. I hardly go three days without sketching a poem even if I’m knee-deep in some other sort of writing. Though lately I’ve taken to longer thematic works that span the bridge between poetry and prose in their hybridity. We will see where this new hybrid writing takes me.

What kinds of writing (comics, dictionaries, magazines, novels, etc.) that aren’t poetry help you to write poetry?

It is tempting to answer “the Pulitzer prize novel winners and Pushcart short stories” because that is truthful even if high-browed. Then I’d have to confess it is not the only answer since this collection contains a brief appearance from the B-52’s, and I have a poem currently circulating that features Batman, and had one published about Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches. Inspiration comes from everywhere.

What’s the title for a book you haven’t written yet?

Doyle Corners, a wild and unwieldy historical family saga of a novel, if I should live that long to see it (begun) completed.

Who do you most hope will read your chapbook? (either an individual or a particular group of people)?

I hope people who haven’t read poetry since it was last assigned in high school read this book. And if they enjoy it, next I’d recommend they pick up an anthology like the “Poetry 180” series to find contemporary poets doing wicked cool things with words.

It would also be great if James Franco read Story and optioned a poem in a movie deal.


Catherine Moore’s work has appeared in Grey Sparrow, Tahoma Literary Review, Southeast Review, and in anthologies, most recently one from Pankhearst Press. She is the winner of the 2014 Gearhart poetry prize and was nominated for “The Best Small Fictions of 2015.” Her chapbook Story is available with Finishing Line Press. Catherine earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tampa. She moved to the Nashville area, where she enjoys a thriving arts and writing community. She currently is the Guest Editor of Female Poets at Toe Good Poetry and reviews poetry books for literary journals. Catherine also volunteers as a literacy tutor.



Still Life

They pose
the lonely
together in photos—

your lazy eye
mistaken for a wink,
my fallen cheek
likens a dimple.


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