Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor’s chapbook, The Misremembered World, was selected by Eavan Boland for the Poetry Society of America’s inaugural chapbook fellowship. The San Francisco Chronicle called her first book, The Forage House, "stunning” and it was a finalist for the Believer Poetry Award. Her second book, Work & Days, was called "our moment's Georgic" by critic Stephen Burt and was named one of the ten best books of poetry of 2016 by the New York Times. Taylor chairs the poetry committee of the National Book Critics Circle, is currently the on-air poetry reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered, and was most recently visiting professor of English and creative writing at Whittier College. Taylor has received awards and fellowships from MacDowell, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the International Center for Jefferson Studies. She was awarded a Fulbright US Scholar Award and is currently in residence at Queen’s University in Belfast.

Photo: Tess Taylor


Border Crossings »

Reading: Michelle Cahill, Tess Taylor

Sun 5 March | 14:15 - 15:15 | £4.00/£3.00 | The Undercroft, St John's House, South Street


Big Granny

When they found Emeline, a nail
held her sack dress together

at the neck. She lived by gathering herbs
for curing leather, lived off land

her people held since they took it from the Cherokee,
quilted mountainsides in Appalachia

where they hewed walnut into rocking chairs
and sang the stony country’s blessings be

and ballads carried in their ears from Scotland.
From my grandmother, her granddaughter,

I have one word in her dialect: stime.
Long-ah, half-rhyme with steam, its meaning: not enough.

As, there’s nary stime of tea nor sugar nar.

In iron light, in the mountain graveyard
her clan’s settler stones grow up with moss

thick as harmonies in shape-note tune.
In those woods, a shadowy foundation:

They took apart her house to save the boards.


Tess Taylor

From The Forage House (Red Hen Press, 2013)