Interview with Anne Leigh Parrish, author of the moon won’t be dared

Today we have an interview with poet and author Anne Leigh Parrish, whose latest poetry collection the moon won’t be dared toured with Poetic Book Tours.

Before we get to the interview, I want to point out that this is far more than a poetry collection. The moon won’t be dared also includes collage images from Lydia Selk.


In this momentous debut collection, the poet harnesses language to give readers a new vision of nature, the impossible plight of womanhood, love, aging, and beauty. Being a woman in a male-dominated society affords Anne Leigh Parrish the space to witness the world on an uneven keel. Parrish pays tribute to the splendor of seasonal renewal, but also weaves the harsh truths of betrayal and brutality into the laments holding the collection together.

Please welcome Anne:

When did you begin writing poetry, and do you remember the first poem you wrote?

Poetry was a late arrival. I didn’t begin until 2017, and yes, I remember quite well the first poem I wrote. It’s called “storm” and appears in my debut collection, the moon won’t be dared.

In the moon won’t be dared, there’s an immediate juxtaposition between Lydia Selk’s collages with people and your poems that primarily use nature imagery. Was this intentional and what parallels do you see between your words and her visuals that readers may not see at first glance?

Lydia is a fabulous artist and very interesting. I’m not sure how she chooses her images, but I sent her the manuscript and asked her to design collages for any poems that particularly resonated with her.

I met Lydia after my first book, All The Roads That Lead From Home, came out in 2011. The publisher chose the cover art, and when I read the attribution, I was surprised to see Lydia lived in Puyallup, WA. I was in Seattle then, Olympia now, and Puyallup isn’t too far from either. My publisher was in North Carolina, and the artist he chose was essentially in my backyard. I contacted her and we began corresponding.

She’s a fabulous photographer, and I used one of her images for the cover of my second book, Our Love Could Light The World, and for my first novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost. I thought it would be very cool if my first poetry book were illustrated, so I reached out to her again. She was focusing on collage art at that point and we both agreed it would make for some amazing illustrations.

Your poems have very little punctuation or capitalization. How did you reach this artistic decision and what do you think it conveys?

I want poetry to flow, for the ideas they rest on to be free.

When writing a poem, is the first draft the only draft or do you tinker with it and for how long or how many drafts before you consider it ready for publication?

Oh, I do a lot of tinkering! The endings in particular are a place of tight focus.

Tell us about finding a publisher. What was that journey like? Did you submit to multiple publishers? How many rejections? How did you keep going (i.e. what was your continued motivation)?

I had been publishing with Unsolicited Press since 2016 when they accepted my short story collection, by the wayside. I told the publisher I was tinkering with a poetry manuscript – that would have been in 2019, and she told me to send her what I had. That manuscript became the moon won’t be dared. So, in my case, there were no multiple submissions.

Do you have any advice for poets just starting to write? Tips and Tricks for crafting the best poem they can and placing them in literary magazines?

It’s important to get good feedback from people whose judgment you trust. A writing course can help, or a writers group. Where feedback is concerned, my rule of thumb is pretty simple – if ten people raise ten different issues about your work, you can’t do much with that. But, if ten people are more or less saying the same thing, pointing to the same issue in your work, that’s worth thinking about.

I find Twitter to be a great source for places that are currently accepting poetry submissions. Another great resource is Submittable. You have to register for a free account, and when you do and log in, there is a tab called Discover. This brings you to places that are currently accepting submissions in many genres, so you have to go to the tag box and click on “poetry.” This filters the results and pulls up places just looking for poems.

A final word about craft – be fearless, not foolhardy. There’s a huge difference between these two, and once you determine what it is and how it applies to your own work, you’ll be that much further down the road of reaching of writing goals.

What are you working on now? Any hints?

The current projects are the hedgerow, a novel coming out in 2024, and blue (or some similar title, that is not yet set), a brand-new poetry manuscript. There is no publication date for that one yet. That said, there are several other pending titles, if you don’t mind my listing them: an open door, a novel, October 2022; if the sky won’t have me, a poetry collection, April, 2023; and a summer morning, a novel, October, 2023. These are all forthcoming from Unsolicited Press.

Thank you, Anne, for being so candid with your work and your publication journey.


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