Interview with Versopolis poet Kim Moore

Kim Moore will read at Versopolis: A Celebration of European Poets on Saturday 2 July 

If you could write poetry in another language, what would it be and why?

I think I’d like to write poetry in Chinese , because I’d love to be able to write using the characters.   Once I’ve written poems by hand, I usually type them up on the computer.  I taught myself to touch type when I was younger, and I love the shape that words make when you are touch typing.  I think this is probably why I’d like to write poetry in Chinese, because of the physicality of drawing the characters.

If you could borrow one word from another language to use in your poetry what would it be?
I’ve never really wanted to borrow a word from another language to use in my poetry, but I do love the word ‘duende’, that it is untranslateable. Lorca writes that  
“everything that has black sounds in it, has duende. [i.e. emotional ‘darkness’]’. I think the best poems have ‘duende’, even though what duende is, is impossible to define.  

How does poetry allow you to be free? 

In a practical sense, it has freed me up from working full-time as a teacher.  I can travel around now – I have time to go to festivals and readings.  On a different level, I genuinely believe that poetry helps me make sense of the world, and this in turn allows me to feel more free.  Before I started writing, I accepted things I was told, or things I read a lot more readily.  Poetry helps me to question things,  and when I write, I often use it as a way of working out what I really think about something. 

Do you think that poetry offers a medium to protest? (Poetry as Protest is a theme running through the Festival due to our partnership with English PEN)

I think a poem can always be a protest against silence, against holding your tongue.  More recently in my own writing, I’ve been exploring feminism and sexism, and how poetry can be used to elevate small and irritating experiences of sexism into art, and what happens to an experience of sexism when it is explored or described in poetry? So I’m all for using poetry as a medium to protest, and I think it can be used to make an individual question their own beliefs and opinions, not just the reader, but also the writer.

What is the value of the Versopolis project for you?

It has been a real privilege to be involved in the Versopolis project.  Going to Croatia last year was a fabulous experience and I’ll never forget the opening night of the festival, when the poets stood and read in their own language, without English translations.  It  was one of the times when poetry has felt closest to music to me, when I could sit back and let the rhythm of the words wash over me, without having to worry about reaching for meaning.  Before Versopolis I’d only really read British and American poetry – after coming back from Croatia, I started to read as much translated poetry as I could get my hands on.    It has been an incredible opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to meeting a Croatian poet that I met at the Goran’s Spring poetry festival in Croatia, in Ledbury this year.   

kim moore