"Laura Moran’s Desire Line combines autobiography, invention, and spirited rumination on the various levels of love and longing – for the body’s heat, for the mind’s light, for knowledge both lived and learnéd, for the alphabetically written and the orally/aurally delivered and heard. Moran explores how the personal and mythical intertwine, how humans come to consciousness and depart from it, how language and memory mix with desire. She examines both the matrilineal line of her family (grandmother, aunt, mother, sister, daughter) and, to a lesser extent, the patrilineal (father, brother, lover) and discovers what she has (and hasn’t) inherited from them.
Though she explores life before the alphabet and longs for the sensate immediacy of that bardic world, she also glories in the world of the written word, especially its recorded etymologies and definitions, and she makes brilliant connections and constructions for an essential vocabulary necessary to the modern-ancient writer that she is. Moran uses strategies on the page to undercut the hierarchies of the eye – its vertical or horizontal biases – subverting these hieratic structures by imposing disparate texts on the page, snippets of annotated marginalia, collages of found texts, childhood journals, grandmother’s letters, old postcards, scholarly reference material, testimonies to an environmental commission on fracking, lines from a one-act religious drama, program notes from a theater performance, all competing for the page’s space, sometimes interrupting, sometimes interweaving, all demonstrating the linguistic forms with which humans use and abuse language.
Moran also subverts the expectations of genre, moving fluidly between poetry and prose both in terms of grammatical style and use of the line – her texts reading as poetic lyric, prose-poem, one-act play, or prose essay – but no matter the form, they all demonstrate a poet’s gorgeous sounds and cadences, linguistic suggestiveness and metaphoric inference. Laura Moran is that rare thing, a writer who moves easily between the interstices of form and genre. And her texts are so musically lively, they nearly sing: she’s a writer on, and off, the page.
Laura Moran’s Desire Line moves sometimes at the speed of thought (“sometimes when I write/I can only go as fast as my fingers/my fingers are fast”), other times, slowing toward the speed of revision and reconsideration, sculpted toward a silence in which Every. Word. Is. Punctuated. At times, Moran hums like a Faustian language-machine, trying to record everything – the sensate world of “rumbling river and receding rocks where green blush algae is exposed to sun,” as well as the worlds of abstract thought, from theoretical poetics to political cant, earth science to astrophysics, religious chants to linguistic conundrums – and at times, she moves toward the unsayable and the unsaid (“half of it is lost…half of it cannot be translated.”) Elsewhere she says, “Desire Line is composition./Desire Line is restraint.” And so it goes, between the profuse generation of language to record the personal artifacts of her life, and the restraint and revision to reinvent those artifacts as art.
Laura Moran’s Desire Line as a book of fragmentary texts – poetic lyric, prose-poem, one-act play, prose essay – assembles a whole way of experiencing the world. As she says, “The shard is the whole – no?” Moran is a mental traveler, a writer in love with the sounds and sense of language, its plasticity and history that take us back to the beginnings of human time. On one level, she recognizes that memory is desire and memory is personal history and therefore memory is home. Her childhood is rich within her, but as a mature writer she knows how to connect past to present, describe the reciprocal arc of desire from then until now: “What you touch touches back.” It’s a living, momentary process: or as she says in the book’s final lines, “I first came to desire now./Always now.” If this were a book only of rich personal history, it would be enough, but Moran also explores the larger desire-lines and planes of human and planetary time…recalling our origins in the stars, in the oceans, in the earth elements, as well as in the watery womb. She understands how the accretion of images and stories on a larger level recall a cosmos and build a cosmology. And she understands how difficult it is to bring all of those layers into view: “What you can’t see are the words hidden behind the words, high watermark deep in the fiber weave”. There’s always a sense in her work that we’re offered palimpsests overlaying a larger world. It’s mysterious and vast, and as much as we’re frustrated by its inherent muteness, we must use language to convey it. “I am talking embodiment,” she says, and she recalls John Gardner’s “Grendel” saying, “Talking, talking, spinning a web of words, pale walls of dreams, between myself and all I see.” That’s the line of Laura Moran’s desire, and it’s her special gift to us – these many words spun from the artifacts of a life both lived and imagined, and made into art."
—— Neil Shepard, author of I'm Here Because I Lost My Way
"The poems in Desire Line are small landscapes of beautiful fire, emotionally provocative and aesthetically delicious for the eyes to devour. These poems and stories sing and shine into the ears of humanity."