Marianne Craig Moore (1887-1972) was an American Modernist, poet, critic, translator, and editor. Her poetry is noted for formal innovation, precise diction, irony, and wit. Moore often composed her poetry in syllabics, she used stanzas with a predetermined number of syllables as her "unit of sense", with indentation underlining the parallels, the shape of the stanza indicating the syllabic disposition, and her reading voice conveying the syntactical line.
In 1905, Moore entered Bryn Mawr College, where the poet H.D was among her freshman class. She was graduated four years later with an A.B., having majored in history, economics, and political science. At Bryn Mawr, Moore started writing short stories and poems for Tipyn O'Bob the campus literary magazine, and decided to become a writer. After graduation, she worked briefly at Melvil Dewey’s Lake Placid Club, then taught business subjects at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School from 1911 to 1914.
Moore's first professionally published poems appeared in The Egoist and Poetry in the spring of 1915. Harriet Monroe, the editor of the latter, would describe them in her biography as possessing "an elliptically musical profundity.” By 1918, Moore was socializing with many avant-garde artists, especially those associated with Others magazine. he innovative poems she was writing at that time received high praise from Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, H.D., T. S. Eliot, and later, Wallace Stevens.
Moore's first book, Poems, was published without Moore's permission in 1921 by the Imagist poet H.D. and H.D.'s partner, the British novelist Bryher. Her second book, Observations, won the Dial Award in 1924. She worked part-time as a librarian during these years; then from 1925 to 1929, she edited The Dial magazine, a literary and cultural journal. This position in the literary and arts community extended her influence as an arbiter of modernist taste; much later, she encouraged promising young poets, including Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, and James Merrill.
In 1933, Moore was awarded the Helen Haire Levinson Prize by Poetrymagazine. In 1951, her Collected Poems won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Bollingen Prize. Moore became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1955. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1962. Moore continued to publish poems in various magazines, including, The Nation, The New Republic, Partisan Review, and The New Yorker, as well as publishing various books and collections of her poetry and criticism.
Moore never married. Her living room has been preserved in its original layout in the collections of the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. Her entire library, knick-knacks (including a baseball signed by Mickey Mantle), all of her correspondence, photographs, and poetry drafts are available for public viewing.