Face Time: Lisa Moore, a playwright and a poet

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HARRISON – Lisa Moore spends a lot of her time freelance writing for companies and organizations, but occasionally she sets aside some time to write for herself.

Moore, 61, said she started writing at a young age and hasn’t looked back. On top of working as a freelance writer and editor, she writes poems and teaches a local poetry workshop.

On July 7, Moore’s play “More to Come,” which focuses on the life of late local painter Duncan Slade, will premiere in the basement of the Norway Unitarian-Universalist Church on Main Street.

While Moore has experience writing and directing plays, specifically in the ’70s when she led a theater program at Hebron Academy, “More to Come” is a personal project, a play focused on a man who meant a lot to Moore and other people in the Oxford Hills.

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It’s just one of the many projects Moore, who lives in Harrison but works out of an office space on Beal Street, has created to support the Norway community.

What was your entry point into writing? Is it something you’ve done since you were young, or did you pick it up later in life? I’ve been a writer since I was 4 years old, when my mother taught me the alphabet. I’d set up a “desk” in front of her ironing board in the basement, and we’d play school. By the time I was 5, I was reading and writing like a third-grader. I couldn’t wait to go to school, but I had to wait since our elementary school did not offer kindergarten. It’s not so much “when did I start;” it’s more like “I started and never stopped.”

What do you do as a freelance writer? All kinds of things, really. I write features, such as “More About the Author” or background information. I write materials for students about literature, grammar and the writing process. I write support materials for teachers with graphic organizers, tips, suggestions for adaptations for special needs and answers to questions. Since (the federal) No Child Left Behind (law), I’ve written a million multiple-choice questions and their rationales. I’ve written poems, plays, short stories and informative passages for grades 3 through college. One year, I wrote for a GRE program, and another I wrote performance assessments for severely cognitively disabled students. I’ve managed teams of writers and editors, and worked as a content specialist in English/language arts for several years. In 2005, I was hired to write a full-length biography of Elie Wiesel for high school students. And, for love, I write and self-publish poetry.

What did you teach at Hebron Academy? I was hired to teach English and begin a theater program at Hebron way, way back in 1977, right out of college. It was a wonderful place to learn to be a teacher. I had two wonderful mentors: Bill Hiss and Ned Willard. My first husband and I began a very successful drama program there and influenced the lives of many students. It was a very gratifying four years, professionally speaking.

What prompted you to get out of teaching and into a different field? I had taught for about a dozen years in three different schools, usually juggling directing plays and advising literary magazines, as well as raising a young son. I was burned out and decided to take a year off to recharge my batteries and do some of my own writing. During that year, Houghton Mifflin hired me as a textbook editor. I got to write some groundbreaking units for the new series “Writing with a Word Processor.” I never returned to teaching in a full-time capacity, although I have taught as an adjunct at Central Maine Community College and in local workshops on poetry and short-story writing.

Do you have a favorite play that you’ve directed? In 1984, I directed a one-act called “Interview,” by Jean Claude Van Itallie, that was very avant-garde and modern. It won the district competition, then the state, then we went to a venue in Providence, Rhode Island, and received many kudos in that non-competitive forum. That was definitely the most successful of them. We called it “the play that would never end,” because we had to keep rehearsing and rehearsing in between all the levels of competition.

When you’re not working , what do you do for fun or to unwind? My husband and I have four pets: two dogs and two cats. We have a small garden too. I read a lot and hike a little. We binge-watch dramatic TV series, and recently we love cooking together with healthy, local ingredients. I volunteer as the board president at the Fare Share Co-op, I run a monthly meeting of the Mountain Poets Society, and I help plan and run the Norway Arts Festival. This year, I’ve written a new play about Duncan E. Slade that will be performed at the festival. This all sounds like work, I know, but I love our community in Norway and I try to do everything I can to support it. For me, being part of a sustainable arts and food community isn’t just work; it’s gratifying and fun.

Lisa Moore, left, and Sally Jones rehearse for the play “More to Come,” based on the life of the late local painter Duncan Slade. Moore wrote, directed and stars in the play. It premieres on July 7 at the Norway Universalist-Unitarian Church on Main Street.
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