Vanessa Moeller

Vanessa Moeller's picture
Photo credit: 
Mathieu Léger
1977
Biography: 

The first diary entry Vanessa Moeller’s mother wrote about her reads, “Vanessa wrote on the white wall with a red marker.” It was a portent of things to come. Since that fateful day, she’s been writing and drawing and is committed to literacy and the arts. While her poetry tends to gravitate towards free verse, she has dabbled in ghazals, sonnets, and ekphrastic poetry. She also translates poems from German to English, especially the works of Hilde Domin. Her work explores themes of language, time, memory, travel, immigrant identity, art, and the challenges of translation. Her influences include Karen Connelly, Michael Ondaatje, Allan Cooper, Pablo Neruda, and Federico Garcia Lorca. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals and has won several awards, including the Atlantic Poetry Prize and an honourable mention at the 2010 National Magazine Awards. Her first poetry collection, Our Extraordinary Monsters, was published by Signature Editions. 

Micro-interview: 
Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?: 

I read a lot of poetry while I was in high school. I was incredibly drawn to the sensuousness in the work of people like Ondaatje, Neruda, and Lorca, but it was Karen Connelly’s work that made me want to write. One poem I deeply loved as a teenager was Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” – it’s still the only poem I can recite by heart. 

 

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?: 

I started writing poetry when I was 16, which coincides with when I began reading it seriously. I think I began to think of myself as a poet when I won the Atlantic Poetry Prize as that was the first time my work was judged by other professional writers. 

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?: 

I think a poet’s job is to be curious, to love language, to experiment, to magnify details, to use the smallest moments to show larger truths. 

If you have a poem in our anthology what inspired you to write it?: 

N/A

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?: 

I would choose "Five Postcards from Jericho" by Sina Queyras. I'd want to memorize this poem for a number of reasons. The first being that I have huge respect for the work Queyras does — it's fierce, fresh, and I always feel empowered after reading her words. Secondly, the rhythms in this poem are amazing — memorizing this piece would be like memorizing a song only you know the whole melody to. And, finally, there are just so many layers to this piece that memorizing it would only reveal more and more to me, which I really love and respect in a work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publications: 
Title: 
Our Extraordinary Monsters
Publisher: 
Signature Editions
Editors: 
Carolyn Marie Souaid
Date: 
2009
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
“For M”
Title: 
On Translating Horses
Publisher: 
Baseline Press
Editors: 
Jessica Hiemstra and Gillian Sze
Date: 
2015
Publication type: 
Anthology
Poem title(s): 
“Shaping the Frame”
Title: 
The Child Alone
Publisher: 
Frog Hollow Press
Editors: 
Brian Bartlett
Date: 
2015
Publication type: 
Anthology