The Forage House

Tess's first book, The Forage House, was hailed as "stunning"

The Forage House was selected for The Believer Poetry Award Editor's Short List. 
The San Francisco Chronicle calls it "stunning." 
Oxford American calls it "visceral, densely detailed and frequently playful."
Guernica lists it as an editor's pick for 2013. 
Barnes and Noble Review praises its "lightning flashes of lyric."
Publisher's Weekly calls it one of this season's four most exciting poetry titles.
Library Journal calls it "a rare view of our history, deepened with mystery."

Read an interview with Tess on,  SF Weekly, and in The New York Times.


LISTEN to Tess read from The Forage House.

WATCH a video of Tess reading selected poems from The Forage House and sharing a little bit about her creative process at the American Antiquarian Society.

WATCH a video of Tess reading her poem "Prayer for Ordinary Time."

Praise for The Forage House

“Tess Taylor’s The Forage House is a brave and compelling collection that bears witness to the journey of historical discovery. Sifting through archives, artifact, and souvenir, Taylor presents a dialectic of what’s recorded and what’s not, unearthing the traces that give way to her own history—and a vital link to our shared American past. What’s here and accounted for draws us powerfully toward what’s absent; what seems complete here never is—something as fragmented as history in the language, as haunted too.”

—Natasha Trethewey

“Ezra Pound’s definition of the epic—’A poem containing history’—demands courage and intellectual range, as well as lyrical gifts. Tess Taylor meets that challenge in The Forage House. A figure of epic scale, Taylor’s Thomas Jefferson is tragic as well: ‘ambitious foundering father.’ The poise, candor and reach of this book—with a vision that embraces the enigmas of contemporary El Cerrito along with those of the slave-owner Jefferson—are deeply impressive.”

—Robert Pinsky

“Document-gatherer, exorcist, mourner, pack-rat, and celebrant—Tess Taylor orients herself within her family’s history of slave-owning in Virginia, their missionary zeal in India, and their displacement to California. A mini-history of our nation, her ambitious poems ignite fact into lyric flash as she implores her ancestors ‘to explain / their America, their prodigal / half-remembered, always present pain.’ The Forage House is a book of conscience and sensuous reckoning.”

—Rosanna Warren

“In Tess Taylor’s collection of poetry, American history is a garment woven from tattered bits of family lore and large swaths of imaginative inlays, so that which shines most is a spun strand of stunningly rich language.”

—Major Jackson

“Tess Taylor’s The Forage House is, among other things, a tribute to the human capacity to perceive the objects of one’s attention—one’s surroundings, things at hand, and even oneself—not merely as they appear in the present, but also as products of, and with, particular histories. These histories can never be retrieved in their entirety, much less with perfect certainty, and what we discover of them might turn out to be difficult to accept. Nonetheless, the sense that we live “haunted by remains” should be cultivated and celebrated as a redeeming human trait, one that will serve not only to fortify our grasp of the present, but also our commitment to the future. Few books in recent memory have taken up that task as scrupulously and artfully as this one.” 

—Timothy Donnelly


More reviews of The Forage House:

Cleveland Plain-Dealer

New Pages

Publishers Weekly