In What to Pray For, Moore bears witness to loss, to bullying, to social injustice. With both precise honesty and a welcoming hand, he invites the reader to stories of not just death and dying, but the ways the departed continue to live in one’s life. Likewise he tells brutal tales of being bullied, and how many young people took their lives because of it.
The thread that connects the many themes of this poetry collection is the power of compassion to heal, not just one’s self, but the world. In asking “What to pray for?”, Moore shares the answers he finds from art, nature, the creative process, and conversations with angels.
What Others Are Saying About What to Pray For
What are poets for? The poet, Michael Kiesow Moore, gives one answer in his new collection of poems: to put mystery back in the moon. What are poets for? Each poet has a different calling, and different past to consider, different relationships to history and memory. In What to Pray For we realize Moore is called to witness, to cry out for peace, for justice. His beautiful poems ask readers to remember history, to reflect on myths, to honor our dead, and to value our own unique lives, our burdens and our blessings.
In Day of Silence the poet writes: Now that the day of silence/is over, I make another vow:/on all other days but this/I will be anything but silent! And this is the vow Moore keeps. We read stories of early bullying he survives, of his path away from that brutality into the world, where he cares for friends dying from AIDS, and also claims the beauty in the world that he finds in music, dance, visual arts, and language. The poet asks what to pray for, and answers: begin the work you were born to do:/wake everyone else. What to Pray For is an abundant first book, soulful and memorable.
—Deborah Keenan, is author of ten collections of poetry and a recent book of writing ideas, From Tiger to Prayer.
Michael Kiesow Moore passes through veils to the other side of mortality and back again. His verse in What to Pray For presents transcendent moments, as when a gay man leaves a bowl of soup on his lover’s coffin or Nijinsky performs his last dance. Moore does not avoid brutal experiences, yet always he finds moments of shining grace. Join this poet in his testimony of hope.
—Denise Low, 2007-09 Kansas Poet Laureate
Micheal Kiesow Moore’s first book of poetry welcomes his readers into his imaginative world filled with pets, paintings, classical music, gourmet cooking, Greek mythology, and contemporary super heroes. These poems are keenly observant, the speaker often longing for peace, justice, and beauty: “if only I could—always—live in blue.” With sensitivity, kindness, and honesty, Moore’s poems dare and educate their readers, challenging us to deepen our search for the stillness, silence, and happiness within us all.
—Kathryn Kysar, author of Pretend the World and Dark Lake
In one of the many harrowing, moving, and ultimately redemptive poems in this book Michael Kiesow Moore writes:
Do not take my pain away from me.
I carry it for him who could bear it no longer,
I bear it so that he can step free now,
light of all care.
Here are poems of almost unimaginable generosity, forgiveness, and a joy illuminated from within by tenderness. How lucky we are to have this book!
— Jim Moore, author of eight collections of poetry, most recently, Underground: New and Selected Poems