DRONES & POPPIES
THREE NEW POEMS BY TESS TAYLOR
These triptych of poems form Tess Taylor’s new book, Work and Days, know well the anxiety we have about poetry as a privileged moment away from the reality of working life. But several years ago when Taylor had the chance to spend a year rent-free in a cottage on the Berkshires, her attending to farming brought forth poetry. That type of attention encompasses a Western tradition—almost exclusively male (Hesiod, Virgil, John Clare)—where working the earth might serve to crystallize or make lapidary-like our thirst for wise, reflective living. Yet Taylor has done something far less obvious, and much more moving, than merely turning the tradition on its head. She’s entered it fully, as woman, mother: an American of privilege and loss in the 21st century. And with her consciousness, evocative and redolent of the hard sensory clarity of the earth, come also intimations of apocalyptic time as much around the world as here at home. The great thinker (and laborer) Simone Weil thought fewer acts more heroic than attentiveness. Reading these crisp, gleaning poems that sing of and are stained by “human remains” I fully agree.
—Adam Fitzgerald, Poetry Editor