MadHat Press

Grassy Stairways by John Taylor

After the twilight ambience of The Dark Brightness, here comes Grassy Stairways. These poems and poetic sequences are often morning-born. Taylor at once meditates on and observes Alpine landscapes, wind, clearings or edges of woods, an alluring hinterland, a “soothing” saxifrage, remains of a fire, not to mention those portholes through which he watches islands going by and, at the same time, wonders about decisive journeys that we all must take. All this poetry originally stems from the American writer’s collaborative projects in different formats—livres d’artistes, livres uniques, and livres pauvres—with the French artist Caroline François-Rubino ( She has stated that she “paints what she cannot photograph.” Similarly, Taylor writes, as it were, at various intersections of inner and outer worlds. Often the boundaries blend. He records these “apperceptions,” these privileged moments of awareness in which one becomes intensely and enigmatically conscious of one’s own processes of thinking, feeling, or looking. What meaning can be glimpsed in such intricate sensations? In what ways do they suggest what “aliveness” might more deeply be, or imply? In spare, subtly haunting language that brings out the semantic resonance of certain key words, Taylor seeks what emerges “behind the present / beyond / inside.

—Jeremy Alden

John Taylor, born in 1952, is an American writer, critic, and translator who has lived in France since 1977. His most recent books of poetry and short prose are The Apocalypse Tapestries (Xenos Books), If Night is Falling (Bitter Oleander Press), and The Dark Brightness (Xenos Books). As a translator, he has won grants and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sonia Raiziss Charitable Foundation, and the Academy of American Poets. In 2015, his translation of José-Flore Tappy’s poetry (Sheds, Bitter Oleander Press) was a finalist for the National Translation Award of the American Literary Translators Association. His recent translations include books by Philippe Jaccottet, Pierre-Albert Jourdan, Pierre Chappuis, Catherine Colomb, Georges Perros, Alfredo de Palchi, and Lorenzo Calogero. His critical essays on European poetry in general and French literature in particular have been published in five volumes at Transaction Publishers, the latest of which is A Little Tour through European Poetry.

Grassy Stairways
by John Taylor
$21.95, paperback, 124 pp
ISBN-13:  978-1-941196-51-9


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