“Polished Fragment,” one of Moss’s many poems inspired by a work of art, describes a yellow jasper portrait of an 18th Dynasty queen that survives only in part and hints that what intrigues us most is what is missing. Moss’s poems, similarly, are deftly cut fragments of an imaginary larger structure that stands behind her wispy, oblique lines. Another poem about a Chekhov short story conveys an intense feeling of sadness and nostalgia that sums up the Russian writer without the encumbrance of plot or commentary. Moss has a talent for reduction to pure essences as well as for translation of other art forms into poetry marked by her own fine sensibility. Other subjects include Brahms, Glenn Gould, Sargent and Turner, all haunting artists whose works, like Moss’s, suggest an unheard music. Chosen by Derek Wolcott as one of the five prize-winners in this year’s National Poetry Series, Moss is an accomplished craftsman whose work is slender but highly resonant.
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