moore

Honor Moore

Acclaimed Poet, Memoirist & Writer
Author of The Bishop's Daughter

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • An Evening with Honor Moore


“The streak of white daubed inside each poem is like a secret ticket to lightness and shining. Are these poem or paintings? Hard to say because their pleasures cross all such boundaries, placing Honor Moore among the happy poets.” —Fanny Howe

“Moore’s poems are perfectly formed yet impassioned…incantations recited to transform confession and grief into liberation and warmth.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist

Honor Moore’s acclaimed memoir, The Bishop’s Daughter, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, an Editor’s Choice of the New York Times Book Review, and a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year. Her biography, The White Blackbird, A Life of the Painter Margarett Sargent by Her Granddaughter, was a New York Times Notable Book in 1996 and was re-released in paperback by W.W. Norton in May 2009 simultaneously with the paperback of The Bishop’s Daughter.

Honor Moore is the author of three collections of poems: Red ShoesDarling, and Memoir. She is the editor of Poems From the Women’s Movement, which was an Oprah Summer Reading pick in 2009, and Amy Lowell: Selected Poems, both for the Library of America; co-editor of The Stray Dog Cabaret, A Book of Russian Poems translated by Paul Schmidt; and translator of Revenge by Taslima Nasrin released in 2010. Her play Mourning Pictures, was produced on Broadway and published in The New Women’s Theatre: Ten Plays by Contemporary American Women, which she edited. From 2005 to 2007, Moore was an off-Broadway theatre critic for The New York Times.

Honor Moore has received awards in all the genres in which she writes, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004 in Nonfiction for The Bishop’s Daughter, awards from the NEA and Connecticut Commission on The Arts in Poetry, and from The New York State Council on the Arts in Playwriting for Mourning Pictures. Poems and prose have appeared in The American Scholar, Salmagundi, Conjunctions, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Open City, the Paris Review, and other journals and anthologies. She teaches in the graduate writing program at the New School and was Bedell Visiting Distinguished Writer in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Iowa in 2010. She has taught nonfiction in the graduate program at Columbia University School of the Arts and has been Poet-in-Residence at Wesleyan University. She lives in New York City.

Honor Moore’s website


Honor Moore is the author of three collections of poems: Red Shoes, Darling, and Memoir. Her acclaimed memoir, The Bishop’s Daughter, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, an Editor’s Choice of the New York Times Book Review, and a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year. Her biography, The White Blackbird, A Life of the Painter Margarett Sargent by Her Granddaughter, was a New York Times Notable Book in 1996. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as awards from the NEA and the New York State Council on the Arts. Poems and prose have appeared in The American Scholar, Salmagundi, Conjunctions, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Open City, the Paris Review, and other journals and anthologies.


THE BISHOP’S DAUGHTER (Memoir, 2008)

“The Bishop’s Daughter is an unsparing portrait of a glamorous but elusive father and his daughter’s search for the truth about his secret life and conflicted loyalties. What makes Honor Moore’s memoir so arresting is the effect of the author’s cool and penetrating gaze on her beloved subject. Before the life and book end, the god-like hero of New York’s crisis years has climbed down from his pulpit to reveal the hidden tenderness, joys and fears of his all-too-human heart.” —Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

Paul Moore’s vocation as an Episcopal priest took him—with his wife Jenny and a family that grew to nine children—from robber-baron wealth to work among the urban poor of postwar America, prominence as an activist bishop in Washington during the Johnson years, leadership in the civil rights and peace movements, and two decades as the bishop of New York. The Bishop’s Daughter is a daughter’s story of that complex, visionary man: a chronicle of her turbulent relationship with a father who struggled privately with his sexuality while she openly explored hers, and a searching account of the consequences of sexual secrets. With a depth of questioning that recalls James Carroll’s An American Requiem, this memoir engages the reader in the great issues of American life: war, race, family, sexuality, and faith.

RED SHOES (Poetry, 2006)
Moore’s third poetry collection begins with a tango and never loses the keyed-up, elegant, ritualized eroticism of the push and pull of that dangerous courtship dance. The abrupt turns, the dagger stares, the barely sustained restraint, all this is found in Moore’s sexy, telegraphic, edgy, and rapt poetry. Gloves, suits, silks, shoes—all are talismans of desire, tantalizing and thwarting. Reveries, memories, and dreams pitch from the vividly concrete to the uninhibitedly surreal as the poet dreams of her deceased parents, remembers a family home, gazes out windows at sunsets and rain, and considers the touch of fugitive lovers. Recurrent images appear like birds landing on ledges or suddenly remembered songs, as the poet’s musings shift from the erotic to the spiritual in “Gnostic,” the aesthetic in an homage to Wallace Stevens, and the elegiac in a graceful cycle of poems portraying photographer and friend Inge Morath. Exquisitely visual, cuttingly witty, Moore’s poems are at once cool and searing. —Donna Seaman, Booklist

POEMS FROM THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT (Anthology, 2009)
“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.” These lines by Muriel Rukeyser epitomize the spirit that animated a whole generation of women poets, from the 1960s to the 1980s, who, in exploring the unspoken truths of their lives, sparked a literary revolution. Honor Moore’s anthology presents fifty-eight poets whose work defines an era, among them Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Sonia Sanchez, May Swenson, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Ann Waldman, Sharon Olds, Diane Di Prima, Lucille Clifton, Judy Grahn, Alice Notley, and Eileen Myles. Here is a fresh and revelatory look at a crucial time in American poetry that presents the full range of its themes and approaches and a generous sampling of its most compelling voices. 


SUMMER

In her garden birds bewail the singe
of absence. It was almost five,
the brick wall greened by a veil
of moss, artifact of city heat. The dog
noses her face toward
movement of air, half the windows
long dead. As you drove the Hudson,
swans from a promontory,
clouds glowering as your gaze
pulled at the root of the island.
What did we look like talking
money and heartbreak? Fire escapes
zigzag brick, balconies barred
with spiraled iron. Make a note:
Beneath the windows, water has
stained the brick. Assume years of
air dulled the color almost white.

THE BISHOP’S DAUGHTER (memoir excerpt)

It is Easter, and in the darkness of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine the singing soars in descent, the gothic ceiling multiplying the clamor. And now, as if a great storm has ceased, there is no music, and in the great silence held by five thousand worshipers, there come three resounding knocks. And as we wait, the massive doors swing open, an ethereal shaft of sunlight floods the dark, the roar of the city breaks the gigantic quiet, and there at the far end of the aisle, in a blaze of morning light, stands the tall figure of a man. My flesh-and-blood father, the bishop.

• • • • • • • • • •

As I wrote in a journal each night, I could conjure him, almost, it seemed, bring back the years of our life together, images and dreams unfolding as I remembered. One day, about two weeks after he died, I started this book. “My father always wanted me to write about him,” I wrote, and suddenly he came into view, enormously tall in silhouette on Easter morning in the cathedral doorway. I had turned away from my father, but he had never turned entirely away from me, and now, as the past opened, I was turning back to him.