Most of the scholarship on Marianne Moore and the visual arts has concentrated on her modernist period during the second and third decades of the twentieth century, when she drew inspiration from the formal innovations and metacognitive preoccupations of contemporary art. Modernism emphasized idiosyncratic structures and the unique vision of the poet. Moore was never a “pure poet” in the twenties or a protest poet in the thirties, but she did think about the civic function of poetry. In the thirties she sought to reach an audience with accessible scenes and objects. Eventually Moore drew on the tradition of Western representational art and invoked its greatest authorities to connect with the past rather than break with it. In this way Moore conveyed knowledge that was not exclusively her own—even as she offered unique ways of seeing to both expose the flaws of contemporary culture and foster a community of understanding.

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