Moritz has worked as an editor and publisher with Watershed Books, and an advertising copywriter and executive. He is well-known around campus for mentoring ambitious creative writing students in VIC 250 and 350. For years he was the beloved faculty liaison of the campus poetry circle, the Algonquin Square Table where poetic minds could meet other students as well as local bards. He has won distinguished awards for his poetry, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and, last year, the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection Sentinel.
- Diana Wilson
As for me and my kind, we poets, we’ll stay with the earth. No thanks to a seat on the rocket with the other disciplines. This behaviour has already ruined one world. We used to rely on the endlessness of sky and sea to cleanse our every idiocy. Now, since we’re leaving earth and not saving it, we can make one certain prediction: someday space, whether infinite or curved, and all that is in it will likewise be filled up and spoiled. This rocket is the first killing metal shot into the flesh of a new world.
Besides, you don’t need us. As doom has approached and this doom-laden attempt to sail beyond it, all has become poetry. There’s been poetry everywhere, as always whenever there is threat: war, poverty, collapse. In these sad last years, you’ve all been reading it, writing it, exalting the great makers of it, whether dead or living. You’ve been begging us to come, apologizing that you can’t offer us all the seats, that some have to be reserved for doctors, engineers. You have demanded poetry: the sad hymn of the lost home, the assurance that despite disaster and our blunders all is well, the assurance that if in fact all is not well there is at least some nobility, some beauty, some eternity in having lived, have tried, having flared briefly in darkness. As Paz puts it:
"Two bodies face to face
are two stars falling
in an empty sky."
You’ve wanted someone to sing you at least that, at night when you go to bed, weary and desperate with building the rocket against time. We poets have always experienced that amid the arrogance of wealth and power, poetry comes to seem small, but in the hour of need it’s recognized for almost all we have, the mediator of any good.
But because of this, you yourself have become poets. A tiny fragment of the ship’s computer contains the whole of earth’s literature, so you don’t even need us for “continuity”. Whoever is inspired will be able to open Shakespeare or Sappho, and by adding his own mind, make a great world arise again, the true world, within the tiny world to which we’re always reducing our life. This and your own newly rediscovered hunger for poetry will be all the cultural continuity you need.
This will happen. And thanks and praise, serious praise, taking just account of all horrors, is always enjoined on us, no matter what prison we’ve condemned ourselves to, say, a centuries-long space ark journey through nothing. So your poetry will be great.
But the earth is humankind’s very body, and there’s a greater poetry in refusing to divorce our body, which gave us our mind. We poets will stay with humanity’s first and forever deepest love, not cast it away. It’s here that we’ll continue the labor that is above payment, as Blake called poetry, and the moment-by-moment eternity it brings, perhaps most deeply and truly at the end. As for me and my house, we will follow the earth.