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English professor Jennifer Moore had summer writing adventure, authors new poetry book

Jennifer Moore stands in beautiful Wyoming. (photo/Jennifer Moore)

Jennifer Moore stands in beautiful Wyoming. (photo/Jennifer Moore)

Jennifer Moore isn’t a cowgirl, but the Ohio Northern University creative writing professor was thrilled to strap on her boots to showcase her poetry-writing skills this summer with other American arts and literary professionals against the backdrop of a working Wyoming cattle ranch.

Moore participated in the prestigious Jentel Artist Residency Program from June 13 to July 15. This working retreat allows specially invited artists to focus on creating new projects or revisiting past works. Each artist is provided private, comfortable furnished accommodations, and unfettered time for thoughtful reflection and meditation on creative work in the adventure land of Wyoming’s beautiful Lower Piney Creek Valley.

“It was great to have one month of writing without any distractions. That's something I don’t have during the academic year,” she said during a recent campus interview. 

Moore worked alongside five other creative artists, including one other writer and four visual artists. Sometimes, they collaborated with their work. At other times they merely enjoyed each other's company. 

The results of Moore's summer writings may be featured in forthcoming poetry chapbooks or collections--after being revised and submitted to literary journals across the country. 

These new poetry works will showcase a different writing style, reflecting a surprising change of pace, rhythm, and sense of time and place. 

“I experimented with a rhythmic form that I never really used much in the past, and that formal choice was also combined with new content that was drawn from childhood experiences,” Moore said. “There were two or three poems that explored the new repetitive forms.”

Moore recommends all artists to explore their creative skills in a residency program at least once in their careers. She would gladly participate in another residency program again.

And, Moore has brought back lessons from her Wyoming adventure to the ONU classroom. She hopes to advocate a sense of fearlessness in her creative writing students.

“I want my students to feel like they’re not limited by their forms, skills, or by their experiences,” Moore said. “I want them to try new stuff, and for them to see what happens. Take new risks and let those risks go into their writing.”  

While Moore worked on new literary pieces, a collection of her poems from early 2008 to the summer of 2014 is featured in a new book, The Veronica Maneuver, published by the University of Akron Press and available at Amazon.com. She explores her fascination with symmetry, and the organizational structure of the book is hyperconscious of the formal behaviors of the poems. The book is divided into three sections, with the middle section of the book being one long poem, separated by subsections. Similar themes are replicated in the first and third sections, creating an interesting symmetrical reading effect. 

“I’m very formally careful of questions about symmetry, but also the deliberate introduction of asymmetrical forms," she said during the interview. 

Another common theme expressed in the collection is the fascination with mirrors, in terms of how an object is reflected through something else. This links to the title of the collection, The Veronica Maneuver, which reflects upon the term affectionately identified with the trickery of a bull fighter, who playfully pulls away the cape from the charging bull at the last possible second. 

“It’s the idea of ‘now you see it, now you don’t.’ It’s the question: can you believe what you’re seeing?” Moore said.

Other inspirations for the title result from the biblical story of St. Veronica, who held the image of Jesus Christ on a veil. This story later spawned the idea of The Veronica Maneuver in bull fighting.

“If you break down the word ‘veronica,’ you have ‘vera,’ which means truth, and ‘icon,’ which means image. So, I became obsessed with this term. There’s so much packed into one word. Each inspiration relies on the idea of seeing and believing," the literary educator said. 

From this poetry collection, Moore hopes her readers develop a sense of wonder, intrigue, and an amplified imagination.

“Poems that are alive and full of imagination are hopeful. They’re so exciting, and create a vibe of excitement,” Moore said.

Finally, Moore offers the following advice to her students and other budding writers: “Read, read, and read. Then, write, write, and write. Discover what you like, then try to articulate what you like about it. Then, try to create something you can stand behind.”

Moore is also the author of What the Spigot Said. Her poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Best New Poets, Columbia Poetry Review, Barrow Street, and other literary collections, and she has provided critical and review pieces for Jacket2, Spoke Too Soon: A Journal of the Longer, and The Offending Adam.

“At this point in my career, I felt that it was the right time to attend a residency program and develop my own collection of poetry. These have helped me grow and develop as a writer,” Moore said.

A native of the Seattle area, Moore earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Mercyhurst University, added a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Colorado, and earned a doctorate in creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Program for Writers.

At ONU, Moore teaches courses in creative writing, literature, and composition. She also coordinates the English Department’s reading series, and advises the university’s undergraduate literary magazine, Polaris.