About Thylias Moss Essay Research Paper Thylias

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About Thylias Moss Essay, Research Paper Thylias Moss: A Poet of Many Voices and A Spellbinding Delivery by Eve Silberman Her hands clasped, her head lowered, Thylias Moss sits in a chair in a small room at Ann Arbor’s Concordia College and waits for what she calls her "poetry experience" (she dislikes the term "poetry reading") to begin. The 4’10" associate professor of English at Michigan looks timid and schoolgirlish in her high-buttoned blouse, short skirt, tights tucked into rolled-up socks, and high-laced shoes. But once introduced, she springs to her feet as though just wound up. Thanking the audience for coming, she playfully reminds them, "We poets don’t have the benefits of rock stars," whose audiences, she notes, are

familiar with their work. "We are always flattered when someone in the audience yells, ‘Please read!’" Although no one shouts, "Please read," the attendees soon look absorbed—and occasionally dazed—as Moss zings from poem to poem and persona to persona. She sounds like a squeaky-voiced little girl when she delivers "When I was ’Bout Ten We Didn’t Play Baseball." She assumes a weary-voiced Black dialect ("Let me clear up a nagging misunderstanding:/ This is the way to make the white woman’s bed") when she reads "The Linoleum Rhumba," a poem inspired by her mother, who has worked most of her life as a maid. And her voice becomes powerful and sermonizing when she delivers "There Will B Animals!" a poem

alternatively playful and despairing as it suggests that the true beasts are those with two legs: "The lion lying with the lamb, the grandmother/and Little Red Riding Hood/walking out of a wolf named Dachau." At times she coaxes the audience into participating, challenging them, in one instance, to tell her what line upset her mother in the poem "She’s Florida Missouri but She Was Born in Valhermosa and Lives in Ohio" (Florida Missouri Brasier is her mother’s name). "‘Those feet wide like yams’" someone calls out. Moss laughs and agrees. "Oh, that troubled her! And she made me look at her feet: ‘Do they look like yams?’ Well, I have already written this; what am I supposed to say?" The audience eats up the merry dialogue. After

the reading, a woman who says she teaches at Concordia College declares she’s never heard any poet read so well. "I like all her voices!" she exclaims. "I am an exceedingly shy person," Thylias Moss says in her office the day after the reading. But offering up her poetry to audiences transforms her. "I’m a performer. If I have to go out and be myself, that would not work." Reciting her poetry, however, gives her "a sense of completion" because she can expose her listeners to "all the rhythms and cadences of the language" that they can’t get through reading. It is an "exhilarating experience" not only for her but, she hopes, for her audience, too. And apparently it is. Moss won the annual $10,000 Dewar’s Profiles

Performance Artist Award in poetry in 1991. She has four collections in print, including her most recent, Small Congregations, New and Selected Poems, published by Ecco Press this year. She also received the Witter Bynner Prize awarded annually by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters to a "distinguished younger poet." Although serious poetry reaches a very small number of readers, poetry readings—whether on campuses or at bookstores—are enjoying a resurgence of popularity. Moss’s emphasis on the oral artistry of poetry means she’s in the right place at the right time. "I don’t know many poets who have better eyes and better ears," the poet Charles Simic, her former teacher in graduate school at the University of New Hampshire, has