Kim Moore’s first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves (Smith/Doorstop, 2012) was a winner in the 2011 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition. In 2011 she won an Eric Gregory Award and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize. Her poems have been published in various magazines including Poetry Review, The TLS, Ambit, The Rialto and Poetry London. If We Could Speak Like Wolves was selected as one of The Independent’s Books of the Year in 2012 and her writing placements include Young Poet-in-Residence at the 2012 Ledbury Poetry Festival.
“These are terrifically assured poems – sensual, perceptive, entertaining – which bridge the gap between feeling and utterance with a genuine lyric gift.”
– Carol Ann Duffy
“Kim Moore’s poetry is tough and beautiful. It is also an absolutely distinctive presence: hers is a voice that knows its own mind. Moore’s work is drily hilarious but also mysterious, disciplined but also risk-taking. Exact and exacting, she is modernizing the lyric tradition.”
– Fiona Sampson
“The poems in Kim Moore’s If We Could Speak Like Wolves are beautifully modulated, decked out in confident, well-judged rhymes, with a keen rhythmic intelligence.”
– C J Allen, Litter
“What stands out for me is the musicality of all these poems: the lines are rhythmic, and the words dance, and echo off each other.”
– E E Nobbs
“The title poem, ‘If We Could Speak Like Wolves’, has the muscular power of the creatures it describes […] It builds and builds to the payoff at the end; this is not just a stunning portrait of wild animals, but a picture of a relationship “more simple than marriage”. The poem works as a kind of slanted nature poem, but the final lines make the reader see it all in a new light.”
– Clarissa Ackroyd
There’s a door frame in the channel,
made of thin black twisted wood.
When the tide is in, it leads to water.
When the tide is out, it leads to mud
and the beginning of the old road
across the channel. Listen at dusk
for the shouts of those who walked
that channel years ago. This was just
a crossing, the only way, before the bridge
was built. Each morning you’ll hear
the shipyard siren calling men to work.
Wait and watch the path appear
like the spine of some forgotten animal
turning in its sleep before you come
to find me. Wear boots, or go barefoot.
Don’t stop, and if you hear them
calling, don’t turn around. You’ll see
barnacles and seaweed on my causeway
and a blue boat waiting at the shore.
Train Journey, Barrow to Sheffield
Even though the train is usually full of people
I don’t like, who play music obnoxiously loud
or talk into their phones and tell the whole carriage
and their mother how they’re afraid of dying
even though they’re only twenty five,
even though the fluorescent lights
and the dark outside make my face look like
a dinner plate, even though it’s always cold
around my ankles and there’s chewing gum
stuck to the table and the guard is rude
and bashes me with his ticket box,
even though the toilet smells like nothing
will even be clean again, even though
the voice that announces the stations
says Bancaster instead of Lancaster,
still I love the train, its sheer unstoppability,
its relentless pressing on, the way the track
stretches its limb across the estuary
as the sheep eat greedily at the salty grass,
and thinking that if the sheep aren’t rounded up
will they stand and let the tide come in, because
that’s what sheep do, they don’t save themselves,
and knowing people have drowned out there
like the father who put his son on his shoulders
as the water rose past his knees and waist and chest
and rang the coast guard, who talked to him
and tried to find him, but the fog came down,
and though he could hear the road, he didn’t know
which way to turn, but in a train, there are no choices,
just one direction, one decision you must stick to.
This morning the sun came up in Bolton and all
the sky was red, and a man in a suit fell asleep
and dribbled on my shoulder till the trolley
came round and rattled loudly and he woke up
with a start and shouted I’ve got to find the sword.
If We Could Speak Like Wolves
if I could wait for weeks for the slightest change
in you, then each day hurt you in a dozen
different ways, bite heart-shaped chunks
of flesh from your thighs to test if you flinch
or if you could be trusted to endure,
if I could rub my scent along your shins to make
you mine, if a mistake could be followed
by instant retribution and end with you
rolling over to expose the stubble and grace
of your throat, if it could be forgotten
the moment the wind changed, if my eyes
could sharpen to yellow, if we journeyed
each night for miles, taking it in turns
to lead, if we could know by smell
what we are born to, if before we met
we sent our lonely howls across the estuary
where in the fading light wader birds stiffen
and take to the air, then we could agree
a role for each of us, more complicated
than alpha, more simple than marriage.
from If We Could Speak Like Wolves (Smith/Doorstop, 2012).
Visit Kim’s blog.