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Work and Daysby: Tess Taylor
Publication Date: April 2016
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A poet hailed as "stunning" reveals a fierce and sensual intelligence in a meditation about farming, reproducing, and what it means to try to forge a relationship with the earth.
In 2010, Tess Taylor was awarded the Amy Clampitt Fellowship. Her prize: A rent-free year in a cottage in the Berkshires, where she could finish a first book. But Taylor--outside the city for the first time in nearly a decade, and trying to conceive her first child--found herself alone. To break up her days, she began to intern on a small farm, planting leeks, turning compost, and weeding kale. In this calendric cycle of 28 poems, Taylor describes the work of this year, considering what attending to vegetables on a small field might achieve now. Against a backdrop of drone strikes, "methamphetamine and global economic crisis," these poems embark on a rich exploration of season, self, food, and place. Threading through the farm poets--Hesiod, Virgil, and John Clare--Taylor revisits the project of small scale farming at the troubled beginning of the 21st century. In poems full of bounty, loss and the mysteries of the body, Taylor offers a rich, severe, memorable meditation about what it means to try to connect our bodies, and our time on earth.
"Tess Taylor's second book of poems offers a series of deliberate lyrics, lyrics as deliberationstendings and attendings in a Hesiodic and Virgilian key: here I work a plot that also grounds. This is a book both grounded and worldly, alert to the smallest pecks a bird might make and to the drones and bombs the US dispatches in the names of its citizens. The shape of a day, a year, a life; the press of mortality; the clutch of soil; the specific angles of light in each season: Work and Days takes the measure of a contemporary life anchoring itself, provisionally, in a farming year. The beauty here co-exists with rot, ripeness with blight. Taylors poems are lean, her imagination and reckoning rich. The turn of the plow offers one of the oldest images of the turnings of verse: Taylors poems carve their own furrow in our common soila line between wanting and getting, working and hoping, learning and failing, losing and making. This is a severe, attentive book, paradoxically lush in its very stringencies. Despite all, a throaty world sings ripen."
All Red Hen Titles by Author:
The Forage House
Work and Days