2020 Winner of the Anne Halley Poetry Prize
- By Edward Clifford
Sam Taylor is the author of three books of poems, Body of the World (Ausable), Nude Descending an Empire (Pitt Poetry Series), and the forthcoming The Book of Fools: An Essay in Memoir and Verse (Negative Capability). A native of Miami and a former caretaker of a wilderness refuge in New Mexico, he currently tends a wild garden in Kansas, where he directs the MFA Program at Wichita State. His poems have appeared in such journals as The Kenyon Review, AGNI, and The New Republic, and his work has been recognized with the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, The Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and residency fellowships from such places as Yaddo, Ucross, Djerassi, and the Vermont Studio Center.
Taylor's work ranges in theme from mysticism to social justice, ecology, and sexuality. His first book, Body of the World, explored the perennial themes of mysticism—of the world as the self—in a variety of contemporary contexts and confronted the violence and suffering that a unitary vision of the divine must subsume. The poet Joseph Stroud called it "One of the most astonishing first books I have encountered." His second book, Nude Descending an Empire, developed the lyrical voice of a citizen-poet engaged with history, social justice, and ecological urgency. Ilya Kaminsky said it had "large ambitions—and overwhelmingly succeeds at all of them...Sam Taylor is a poet to reckon with, a poet to live with, a poet to marvel at. This is a wonderful book." And the poet Chase Twichell said, "Once in a while a book appears that seems forged from the truth. This is one. " Forthcoming, The Book of Fools: An Essay in Memoir and Verse is a book-length hybrid poem that invents new formal structures to marry global, ecological themes of loss—focused around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—to personal, confessional ones. Of this work, the poet Craig Santos Perez said: "Taylor brilliantly creates a “composite canvas” to capture what it means to make art in our precarious times." "Postcards from Babel," the 2020 Anne Halley Prize poem, comes from a fourth manuscript, in preparation, that investigates themes of ethnicity, race, identity, and the mystery of the world.
Join us for a virtual reading with Sam on March 17th, 2021 at 7:30 pm EST. Register online here.Buy Now