FORWARD ARTS FOUNDATION: When did you start writing poetry and what drew you into it?
KIM MOORE: I’ve always written poetry and stories since I was young but it was only when I moved to Cumbria to take up a job as a peripatetic brass teacher that I joined a local poetry group. I only did that because I was lonely. The encouragement that I got from the poets in the group was great. I found out there was such a thing as residential poetry courses from them and I booked to go to Ty Newydd. This must have been in 2007/2008. The tutors were the Welsh poet Nigel Jenkins and the American poet and novelist Sarah Kennedy. They were both really supportive and kind about my writing and Nigel told me I needed to be more disciplined and to read and write every day. He told me that I needed to spend as many hours reading and writing as I did practicing my trumpet, and from that moment I was hooked – when I realised it was something that I could get better at if I worked at it.
FAF: Please talk about your development as a writer of poetry. Tell us when you first felt you were a poet and how it went from there.
KM: I don’t think I ever really feel like a poet, apart from maybe when I’m writing a poem but it is quite a transitory feeling. I get it when I’m writing but it is hard to feel like a poet when you are teaching thirty children how to play a trumpet. I suppose for me the big turning point was when I started to submit to magazines and gradually started to get poems published. I had quite a traditional route into poetry and publishing – I published in magazines and journals and then I was awarded an Eric Gregory in 2011 and won the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition in 2012. I carried on submitting to magazines and was awarded a Northern Writers Award in 2015 and my first collection came out this year. Another big turning point for me was deciding to work part-time as a brass teacher – this was a massive financial risk for me but I wanted to commit more time and energy to my poetry, and so far it has worked out really well and I now work three days a week as a Brass Teacher for Cumbria Music Service and two days as a freelance writer so this is the most poet-like I’ve ever felt!
FAF: What does being shortlisted for the Forward Prizes mean for you?
KM: It is a massive surprise and a lovely feeling to have a poem singled out. I’ve been buying the anthologies since I started writing seriously in 2008 so to find myself being included in one is a slightly unreal experience.
FAF: Please tell us about the genesis of this poem. Is it part of a collection or sequence? Where can a reader find more by you?
KM: This poem is part of a sequence of poems called ‘How I Abandoned My Body To His Keeping’ which explores domestic violence within a relationship. The sequence is part of my first collection ‘The Art of Falling’ published by Seren. ‘In That Year’ is the first poem in the sequence and it sets out a lot of the ideas that are explored throughout the rest of the sequence – the use of animals, birds, insects and the body to explore issues of power and control.
FAF: Which poets do you admire most and what do you value in their work?
KM: I find this question really hard to answer because there are so many poets I like. A lot of my favourite poets are also very good friends of mine. I love Clare Shaw’s work because it’s so unflinching and honest. I like David Tait’s poetry for its lyricism. I like the mystery in Carola Luther’s work and the careful observation in Andrew Forster’s poetry. I’m a huge fan of Kei Miller’s work, but then who isn’t? For poets I will read again and again, I’ll always go back to Moniza Alvi and Michael Symmons Roberts but there are so many more that I haven’t mentioned. I’ve been reading a lot of first collections recently and my two favourites this year so far have to be Andrew McMillan’s and Jane Clarke’s.
FAF: What’s next for you as a poet?
KM: I’m working on a series of poems called ‘All the Men I Never Married’ which I’m having great fun writing. I’m also writing a lot about scaffolding and my dad and the idea of physical work which I did explore in my first collection but I want to push this a bit further. In the long term I’d like to do a PhD and I’ve just started tentatively looking into this.
FAF: What advice would you give to anyone starting out in poetry today?
KM: My advice would be to read as much poetry as you can. Spend at least twice as much time reading as writing and get involved with poetry that is going on in your local area – go to writing groups, open mics, readings and if there aren’t any of these things happening, then start something up.