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 is the author of The Forage House, finalist for the Believer Poetry Award, and Work & Days. An avid gardener and cook, she dropped out of Amherst College in her twenties to become a translator and chef’s assistant at L’Ecole Ritz Escoffier in Paris. Her poems and essays have appeared widely in publications including the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, and the New York Times. She 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. She lives in El Cerrito, CA.
Stephen Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. His essay collection Close Calls with Nonsense was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other works include The Art of the Sonnet, Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler, The Forms of Youth: Adolescence and 20th Century Poetry, Parallel Play: Poems, Randall Jarrell on W. H. Auden, Randall Jarrell and His Age, and Popular Music. His latest collection of poems, Belmont, was published by Graywolf Press in 2013.
Joseph Massey is the author of Areas of Fog, At the Point, To Keep Time and Illocality as well as 13 chapbooks and various limited-edition broadsides and folios. Massey’s work has also appeared in many journals and magazines, including The Nation, A Public Space, American Poet, Verse, Western Humanities Review, Quarterly West; and in the anthologies Visiting Dr. Williams: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of William Carlos Williams, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, and Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation.