Is your town Nineveh?

Marianne Moore fans will recognize the poem title, but it turns out that there is at least one Moore scholar living in Mosul, Iraq–which is the site of ancient Nineveh. A few months ago the following email was forwarded to us:

Several years ago, I had some correspondence with a woman who signed her letters “Wafa AA.” She said she was studying at the University of Mosul in Iraq and writing on Marianne Moore, and asked if I would send her my book _Language and the Poet_, which has two chapters on Moore. I did send it to her.

That was well before the war, and during the war I would
think of her whenever I heard news of Mosul — e.g. that the University library had been decimated — robbed, among other things, of its collection of valuable ancient Arabic MSS. Out of the blue, I recently heard from her again. She is “Dr. Wafa AA” now. She is directing a student who is writing on Moore (from whom I have also heard). She tells me there is a desperate and urgent need for anything and everything pertaining to Moore: her poems, her letters, her prose writings, books and essays about her. They just don’t have anything in the library there. What has happened is the equivalent of a tsunami in the educational world.

I plan to send her a copy of each of the two new collections of Moore’s poetry, but I am sure additional copies of these, or anything else pertinent to the scholarship and criticism on Moore, would be received with great joy. The mailing address is:

Dr. Wafa AA
P.O. Box 11173,
University of Mosul,
Mosul, IRAQ

The way to send things is via U. S. mail. I haven’t yet checked on how much it costs to mail books, but it can’t be much more than I paid a few years ago, which as I recall was under ten dollars. I’ll check and let you know.

I’d greatly appreciate your forwarding this to anyone you think might be willing to send books and essays. I suspect that anything on twentieth-century poetry generally, in addition to the poetry of Moore, would be welcome.

With thanks for whatever help you can give me in publicizing this literary emergency,

Sincerely yours, Marie Borroff
Sterling Professor of English,
Emeritus, Yale University

So we got in touch with this professor and sent some of our Marianne Moore books (a set of the Marianne Moore Newsletter, a copy of the Complete Prose, not to mention copies of the Nineveh poem manuscript), and have since kept in regular contact. We have also been in touch with a student who’s working on Aldous Huxley & have sent along a Huxley book as well.

Right now our scholar is looking for some more Huxley books, but he is also interested in articles that discuss Moore as an ekphrastic poet. We’ll put you in touch with him if you’re interested.

We have yet to ask how it came to pass that there are Moore scholars in Iraq, or how Moore’s work looks in the context of Arabic or Persian letters… but soon.