Although many of Moss’s poems discuss race and gender, these subjects are, explains scholar Langdon Hammer, simply “starting points for her work…her poetry makes such facts of identity seem unfamiliar, their meanings not to be predicted, unavailable to the naked eye.” Known for startling metaphors and vivid imagery, Moss’s later work demonstrates an expansive imagination that seeks to connect at times wildly disparate subjects. In a piece for the Boston Review, Moss described her writing process: “I prefer that unanticipated discovery lead me to and through a poem; for me there is some rapture if the dance of dust mirrored in the hoof of some unspecified beast offers delight and insight that perhaps I would miss were I regularly more interested in imposing certain agendas on my poems.”
Since 1993, Moss has been a professor at the University of Michigan. She has authored a memoir, Tale of a Sky-Blue Dress (1998), about her childhood in Cleveland, Ohio, and has also published several children’s books. She holds degrees from Oberlin College and the University of New Hampshire, where she studied with Charles Simic.
Winner of the Dewar’s Profiles Performance Artist Award (1991), Moss is well known for the dramatic nature of her readings. Her emphasis on poetry’s oral qualities led her to establish Limited Fork Poetics, an interdisciplinary field of film, sound, poetry, and computer science that produces what she terms “poams,” an acronym for products of acts of making. In an interview with the poet Richard Siken, Moss explained her search to make her poetry both new and relevant: “If motion is how we acquire information and also the way in which we experience existence, then I needed to seek ways to make that were sensitive to that. I set out to study interactions among language systems—among the visual, the sonic, the olfactory, and the tactile.”