Shining Bright

Cyclone Stories: David Barclay Moore (’07 english) / New York, New York

Written by Melea Reicks Licht | Photo by Melea Reicks Licht

David Barclay Moore ISU author

David Barclay Moore has seen it happen to too many kids – the moment when the light of youth switches off. 

“I watched kids grow up while documenting their lives at Harlem Children's Zone,” says Moore, who worked as a communications specialist for the world-renowned antipoverty organization for seven years. “I would watch the light turn off in some of these kids when they realized their place in the world. You could see it in Black boys in particular. When the exuberance of youth starts to dim, that’s when you see problems begin.”

Moore (’07 English) drew inspiration from such youth when writing his award-winning middle grade novel, The Stars Beneath Our Feet. The book has been optioned for a movie by actor-director Michael B. Jordan for which Moore has also written the screenplay. His debut novel details the grief and survival story of Lolly, a Black boy from Harlem who copes by creating art with Legos. It earned Moore the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2018. 

His follow-up novel, Holler of the Fireflies, dropped in 2022 and follows a boy from Brooklyn to a STEM camp in an Appalachian holler for one epic, life-changing summer. Moore has also authored a picture book titled Carrimebac, the Town That Walked.

Iowa State University drew Moore to Ames from his suburban Missouri home with a National Merit Scholarship. Moore says three pivotal things happened during his time on campus. He made a conscious decision to become more outgoing, he developed passion and skill for filmmaking and photography (which he refined on consortium at Howard University), and he had a chance meeting with acting legend Ossie Davis at Iowa State’s Black Cultural Center.

“I approached Davis following his invited lecture,” Moore recalls. “I was trying to get him to read my screenplay. Instead, he encouraged me to seek out and consider peer input. That stuck with me. When I went to Howard, I started a group called the Young  African Writers Association based on that conversation. The group has gone on to foster multitudes of influential Black writers.”

Moore continues to promote mental health among Black youth. He’s working on a mental health anthology for young Black men and has a new picture book Boyogi, to be published this fall, about a Black father and veteran who does yoga with his son at a Brooklyn YMCA to cope with PTSD.