Assembling the Manuscript
As poets, how do we put books together? What does it mean to move from writing good poems to weaving and assembling an entire book? How do poets listen to the specific calls of the muse toward disparate verses and keep an eye on the wider shape of a possible emergent volume? We will read several collections to understand their logics of assembly, do strategic writing to fill out our collections, generate new material, edit what we have, and collect strategies for aligning our own poems.
No class on 10/12, 11/2, 11/9, & 11/23.
August 22: Scholarship Donation Day (Learn more.)
August 23: Member registration opens
August 30: General registration opens
Tess Taylor's body of work deals with memory and cultural reckoning. Taylor, who Ilya Kaminsky recently hailed as “the poet for our moment” resides in El Cerrito, California. Her poems have received wide national and international acclaim. Taylor’s chapbook, The Misremembered World, was selected by Eavan Boland for the Poetry Society of America’s inaugural chapbook competition. The San Francisco Chronicle called her first book, The Forage House, (an exploration of hidden family histories through archive and shard) “stunning,” and it was a finalist for the Believer Poetry Award. Taylor’s second book, Work & Days— a farm journal for a small organic farm—was called “our moment’s Georgic” by Harvard based critic Stephanie Burt, and named one of the 10 best books of poetry in 2016 by the New York Times. Taylor’s third book, Last West, is a hybrid photo and poetry book retracing the steps of Dorothea Lange in California. Revisiting the landscapes where Lange photographed (including the site of Migrant Mother) Taylor documents the uneasy, haunting echoes between past and present. This work appeared as part of the Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures exhibition at MoMA in February 2020, and is currently being adapted for the stage by the Magic Theater. Taylor’s fourth book of poems, Rift Zone, traces literal and metaphoric fault lines—rifts between past and present, childhood and adulthood, what is and what was. Rift Zone was hailed by Stephanie Danler as “brilliant” in the LA Times, and Naomi Shihab Nye called it “stunning” in The New York Times.
Taylor has recently begun working on pieces for the stage: She is collaborating with Lisa Peterson and Elizabeth Dell on Detective Story (an adaptation of a novella by Nobel Prizewinner Imre Kertesz) at Stages Theater in Houston. She is doing early development for a version of Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange at the Magic Theater in San Francisco.
In addition to her life as a poet and playwright, Taylor is a nationally known critic. She has spent 10 years as the poetry reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered, and writes editorials and book reviews for CNN and The New York Times. Taylor’s poems and nonfiction have appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, Harper’s, Harvard Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Times Literary Supplement, Travel & Leisure, and other publications. In recent years, Taylor has received fellowships from Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room, the MacDowell Colony, the MARBL archive at Emory University, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Taylor has taught at UC Berkeley, St. Mary’s College, UC Davis, and Whittier College. She served as Distinguished Fulbright US Scholar at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast. She is currently on the faculty of Ashland University’s MFA program.