It was an editor's dream: poems of this caliber, unsolicited and unexpected, in my post office box. The verse was assertive, muscular, practiced but never unsurprising. Who was this man?
Everyone else knew, it seemed. Richard Moore's poems and essays had been widely published for more than 15 years before the publication of his first book in 1971. He has appeared in most of the major periodicals that accept essays and poetry, and he still loves small journals. Eberhart, Nemerov, Wilbur, Kennedy—these are the poets who willingly write "blurbs" for the backs of his books. Richard Moore is the real item.
Moore's most recent publication, The Rule That Liberates: New and Published Essays (1994), should be used as a text in any serious poetics class. Three years ago, Moore published a paperback book of rollicking short poems. No More Bottom, and his first novel. The Investigator. Moore is brainy, but No More Bottom is witty, bawdy, brief, and ironic. Some of the offerings seem to have no purpose but to vent his spleen delightfully; others, such as "In Winter," are much deeper than they are long, and fairiy representative of Moore's most thoughtful, sustained work:
A wife and children gone, one grieves
and watches storm-tortured trees, hale,