Tess Taylor

We live in an era of furious soundbite, of bon mot; where the very engines of conversation—I’m thinking of Twitter here—actually profit by feeding off and amplifying anger and discontent. Yet what will amplify our tenderness? What will amplify our sense of being responsible for one another?

poetry critic for NPR’s all things considered

Work & Days named one of 2016’s 10 best books of poetry by the New York Times

Fulbright Scholar





A haunting American elegy.
— Jonathan Lethem on Rift Zone
Brilliant...Rift Zone is a confident poetic engagement with the vital issues of our time, including the disastrous consequences of human activity on our climate, and tis effect on the public and private spheres.
— Ada Limón
Taylor is geologically, biologically, and morally alert. With a naturalist’s painterly and wide-open gaze, she includes crises of war and environment alongside the actual, detailed labors of greenhouse and field. This book presents the knowledge of labor in many forms: its ripening in gardens and farms, culture and birth-giving, an inseparable part of our days’ broader makings within the ‘chapped farmhouse’ that houses our hard-won, shared fates amid the existence of all.
— Jane Hirshfield on Work & Days

Tess Taylor is a poet and the poetry critic for NPR’s All Things Considered. Her books include Work & Days (Red Hen Press, 2016), named one of the best poetry books of 2016 by The New York Times; The Forage House (Red Hen Press, 2013), a finalist for the Believer Poetry Award which The San Francisco Chronicle called “stunning,” and the chapbook The Misremembered World, which was selected by Eavan Boland for the Poetry Society of America’s inaugural chapbook fellowship. In February 2020, Last West, an exciting book length commission from the Museum of Modern Art, will be published in conjunction with the MOMA show, Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures. Rift Zone, her second publication of 2020, will be published by Red Hen Press in April 2020. In his introduction to the collection, Ilya Kaminsky calls Taylor’s voice “invaluable” and a “poet for our moment.”  Her work explores California and the American West, her life as a critic, and the intersection of poetry and journalism.

Taylor’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Tin House, The Times Literary Supplement, CNN, and many other venues.  Taylor has also served as Distinguished Fulbright US Scholar at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In an interview with Bekah Steimel, Taylor described her process; “Fits and starts, notebooks and revision, scraps and wrappers. I have kids now and I teach and have a freelance writing practice and juggle a lot of things as a working writer. I don’t even know HOW— except in fits and starts and also doggedness. What I love though is looking at a new book arriving in the mail and finding that about seven years after I wrote it on a napkin, a phrase has made it into a poem. That’s a reminder to me that the work is going on, messily, perhaps, but going.”

She grew up and lives again in El Cerrito, California.



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