Interview with Ansley Moon


Ansley Moon was born in New Delhi, India, and has since lived on three continents. Her work has been published in PANK, J Journal, Southern Women's and elsewhere. Her first book of poetry, How to Bury the Dead, was published by Black Coffee Press. She is the recipient of a Kundiman fellowship and works as an editor for Black Lawrence Press. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

You attended your first Kundiman retreat with your fellow readers Wo Chan and Tung-Hui Hu, in 2012. What's one memory or takeaway that you have from that retreat?

The Kundiman retreat is a sacred place. For me, it altered my relationship to poetry and it made me believe that my voice was necessary.  I also remember Wo and Hui-Hui’s transformative reading. I feel privileged to read alongside them at the Kundiman & Verlaine Reading.

You attended the New School for your MFA. How has your writing life changed since then? How has it remained the same?

My MFA program made me a stronger writer by pushing me to take my work seriously. Before my writing program, my writing life was a solitary one. Now, I have a group of friends that inspire and challenge me to be a better writer and person. 

Can you talk a little about how you balance your teaching life and your writing life?

I think that the key to balancing any job and writing is setting strict parameters and differentiating your “work” time from your writing time. I do this by striving to complete all my teaching related tasks at my job so that my evenings and weekends are free to write. Some weeks are better than others, and this is the first year that I feel I am balancing writing and teaching. I write everyday and revise and submit writing on the weekend. While teaching can be a grueling vocation, I am passionate about education. My students inspire me by sharing their poetry.

Kundiman has an ongoing Kavad project this year called Writing Race and Belonging: would you mind spending some time discussing your relationship to writing, race, and belonging? Broad topic, I know, but we're interested in any first memories, thoughts, or impressions you have when you think about those three ideas.

I was born in India and adopted into a white, Southern family. From an early age, I learned that “belonging” meant complicating traditional narratives. For me, being raised in the South was a constant trauma that forever marked me. I am always navigating race and identity. 

In Monique Truong’s book, Bitter in the Mouth, she states: “We all need a story of where we came from and how we got here. Otherwise, how could we ever put down our tender roots and stay.” Writing has always been my way of navigating my place in the world.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a poetry manuscript about adoption, race, and infanticide in India and a long poem about my father.

What are some favorite books (movies or art) that you would recommend?

There are too many books to name! Recently I read Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo and The Father by Sharon Olds. I would recommend both! I am also interested in the way that art, music and dance intersect poetry. Wim Wenders’ film Pina especially comes to mind.


Ansley Moon will be reading with Wo Chan and Tung-Hui Hu at Kundiman & Verlaine on Sunday, November 17th at 4pm.  Check out the Facebook event page here: 

Please note that we decided to hold a fundraiser at this event. Proceeds from this reading will benefit Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda Relief in the Philippines. So, please come and open up your hearts as well as your pockets. The Philippines is in dire need. Every bit counts.