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Marianne Craig Moore

Marianne Craig Moore

Marianne Craig Moore

Marianne Craig Moore — an American Modernist poet, critic, translator, and editor. Her poetry is noted for formal innovation, precise diction, irony, and wit.


Moore was born on November 15, 1887 in Kirkwood, Missouri in the manse of the Presbyterian church where her maternal grandfather, John Riddle Warner, served as pastor. Her parents separated before she was born after her father, John Milton Moore, a mechanical engineer and inventor, suffered a psychotic episode; Moore never met him. She and her older brother, John Warner Moore, were reared by their mother, Mary Warner Moore. The family wrote voluminous letters to one another throughout their lives, often addressing each other by playful nicknames and using a private language.


In 1905, Moore entered Bryh Mawr College, and she graduated four years later with an A.B., having majored in history, economics, and political science. The poet H. D. was among her classmates during their freshman year. At Bryn Mawr, Moore started writing short stories and poems for Tipyn O'Bob, the campus literary magazine, and decided to become a writer. After graduation, she worked briefly at Melvil Dewey's Lake Placid Club, then taught business subjects at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School from 1911 to 1914.


Moore's first professionally published poems appeared in The Egoist and Poetry in the spring of 1915.


The innovative poems she was writing in early XX century received high praise from Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, H.D., T. S. Eliot, and later Wallace Stevens.


Moore's first book, Poems, was published in 1921 by the Imagist poet H.D. and her partner, the British novelist Bryher, without Moore's permission. Moore's later poetry shows some influence from the Imagists' principles.


Her second book, Observations, won the Dial Award in 1924. She worked part-time as a librarian during these years; then from 1925 to 1929, she edited The Dial magazine, a literary and cultural journal. This position in the literary and arts community extended her influence as an arbiter of modernist taste; much later, she encouraged promising young poets, including Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, and James Merrill.


When The Dial ceased publication in 1929, she moved to 260 Cumberland Street in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, where she remained for thirty-six years. She continued to write while caring for her ailing mother, who died in 1947. For nine years before and after her mother’s death, Moore translated the Fables of LaFontaine. She died on 5 February, 1972.