A physicist and amateur astronomer who writes poetry? This Thursday the Lazy Lion Bookstore will host Elon professor Claudine Moreau as she reads from her new collection, “Dark Machines.”
“I’m a scientist first,” she states. “I’m very skeptical. Then I look at a subject as a poet, with wonder.” It’s this duality that distinguishes her work.
“She is able to incorporate her vast knowledge of physics into her poetry, which sets her apart from other writers of her generation,” says Ron Rash, The New York Times bestselling author of “Serena.”
Moreau’s titles alone hook the reader like a tabloid in the supermarket aisle. The poem “Father-In-law in His Tighty-Whities” won The Pinch literary award in 2011. She also earned an honorable mention for the poem “Upon Seeing an Ex-Boyfriend in an After-Sex Scene on a Daytime Soap.”
In Moreau, two worlds collide, and the result is poetry that’s out of this world, as in “Comet Girl”: “You found my rocky body/ somewhere in the Tundra/ under a mountain of snow/ sheets and pillowcases.
You carbon dated my fingers,/ toes, and iron hair, to find/ I’m older than the solar system,/ but younger than the Milky Way.”
Moreau has a photographic eye. “I like to get an image and a picture in my head,” she says, describing her recent study of Soviet pictures of Venus. Those images were the springboard for her new poem, written from the point of view of a Venusian.
Moreau’s eclectic job history adds further scope to her work. “I put in septic systems and swimming pools with my dad,” she laughs. “There always seemed to be something disassembled in the garage. All of it does come into play.”
Previous jobs include cement mixer, cafeteria lady, peer review coordinator for NASA, biscuit maker, and Harvard lung study field tech, leading to poetry subjects as varied as dishwashing and pulsars.
Retaining her punk rock spirit, Moreau refuses to drive a mini-van, a symbol of suburbia to her. “It represents a compromise I’m not willing to make,” she explains.
She also doesn’t compromise on her poetry. “Your poetry should reflect the way you speak,” she notes, scorning language that’s “too poetic.”
Moreau begins her creative process the old-fashioned way, in longhand, margins embellished with squiggles and arrows, form free of edits. “The form doesn’t come until I type it up,” she says. She’s even considering a manual typewriter, which she anticipates will be “slower, more deliberate, and more fun.”
Jan Parker, a co-host of the Third Thursday reading series, fully expects Moreau will be a future poet laureate. “Poet Claudine Moreau composes some of the more brilliant poetry in the state, if not the southeast region, Parker says.”Her command of the language is exquisite, and her ability to connect poetry so deeply with the human experience is beyond compare.”
“We are so fortunate to have Ms. Moreau read for us at the Lazy Lion during Third Thursday Open Mic Night,” Parker adds.” I do hope the seats are filled!”
Claudine Moreau is slated to fill those seats and spark the skies over Fuquay-Varina on Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Lazy Lion, 601 Broad Street. The open mic will follow the reading.