Skip to main content

Taylor Graham: Poet Interview

The next poet in the Top 25 series from the 2013 April PAD Challenge has made herself known so well that I feel she doesn't need an introduction. But here's the thing: Taylor Graham is not a person who talks much about herself; rather, she just writes incredible poems. In addition to making the Top 25 list, she is the current co-champion of the 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge (with Joseph Mills).

Taylor Graham and her dogs.

Taylor Graham and her dogs.

For almost 40 years, Taylor has trained her German Shepherds for search-and-rescue, in Alaska, Virginia, and California, and she’s responded as a volunteer to hundreds of searches for missing people. Her poems appear widely online and in print, and she’s included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University). Her book, The Downstairs Dance Floor, was awarded the Robert Philips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her collection Walking with Elihu: poems on Elihu Burritt, the Learned Blacksmith is available on Amazon, as is What the Wind Says (Lummox Press). Learn more about Taylor at her website, www.somersetsunset.net.

Here's the poem I chose for the Top 25:

Lexicographer's Daughter, by Taylor Graham

Angle brackets. Binomials of exotic
species. Boldface colons: how he spends
his days, and then files it all away.

She sneaks past the capitalizing labels
of his books; riffles pages; spreads
young (also called curious) angel wings.

She's outgrown every pair of shoes.

*****

Where are you located?

I live outside Placerville, California, in the Sierra foothills with my husband, two German Shepherds we train for search-and-rescue, and six sheep.

Who are your favorite poets?

In high school, I fell in love with Gerard Manley Hopkins, e.e. cummings, and Dylan Thomas, and they’re still my favorites, along with A.E. Stallings, Mary Oliver, James Wright, and Billy Collins.

As a reader, what do you like most in poems?

I like to be shown something new, or see it in a different light – leaps of thought and language to transform the world. If a poet writes in form and handles the form very well, that’s an added pleasure. I like a poem to perform some sort of magic for me.

What were your goals for the 2013 April PAD Challenge?

To get out of my rational "this and therefore that" frame of mind, to let in some playfulness, serendipity, adventure; to see things from a different point of view; to end up somewhere I didn't expect.

What's next for you?

I've been writing a lot of dog poems over the past year and a half, bringing up old adventures I've had, mostly from search-and-rescue. I have a book-length collection due out from Lummox Press toward the end of 2013 or early 2014, titled What the Wind Says.

Beyond that, I can't seem to stop writing about dogs and what I learn from them; some of the poems are taking mythic turns. So I'll just see where this leads.

*****

Get your poetry published!

Learn how with the 2014 Poet's Market.

Click to continue.

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World's Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Michigan Quarterly Review, the flagship literary journal of the University of Michigan.

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between desperate and disparate with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

What Is Pastiche in Literature, and Why Is Sherlock Holmes Perfect for It?

What Is Pastiche in Literature, and Why Is Sherlock Holmes Perfect for It?

What has made Sherlock Holmes so adaptable and changeable throughout the character’s original inception? Author Timothy Miller explains.

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

When author Diana Giovinazzo found herself caught in the storm of grief, doing what she loved felt insurmountable. Here, she shares how she worked through her grief to find her creativity again.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Our Brand-New Digital Guide, 6 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce our new “Get Published in 2022” digital guide, six new WDU courses, and more!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

The occasional bump in the writing process is normal, but it can be difficult to work through. Here, author Genevieve Essig shares five ways to keep your writing rolling.

From Script

How to Write from a Place of Truth and Desire and Bending the Rules in Screenwriting (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with screenwriter Steven Knight (Spencer), Mike Mills (C'mon C'mon), and David Mitchell (Matrix Resurrection). Plus, how to utilize your vulnerability in your writing and different perspectives on screenwriting structure.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is forgetting to read.

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Sharing even a fraction of our feelings with our characters will help our stories feel more authentic. Here, Kris Spisak explains how to tap into our memories to tell emotional truths on the page.