The Book of Fools: An Essay in Memoir and Verse
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About the Author
Sam Taylor is the author of three books of poems, including Nude Descending an Empire (Pitt Poetry Series), Body of the World (Ausable Press), and The Book of Fools: An Essay in Memoir and Verse (Negative Capability Press). A native of Miami and a former caretaker of a wilderness refuge in New Mexico, he currently tends a wild garden in Kansas, where he is an Associate Professor and the Director of the MFA Program at Wichita State University. His work has been recognized with the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, among other awards, and his poems have appeared in such journals as The Kenyon Review, AGNI, and The New Republic.
"The Book of Fools is a haunting journey into the (under)worlds of personal loss, global inequity, and ecological disaster. Just as the characters and mythic figures in this book cross borders, the poems traverse the aesthetic terrains of lyric and narrative, while also experimenting with typographical innovation. Taylor brilliantly creates a "composite canvas" to capture what it means to make art in our precarious times and to continue 'dancing of our erasure.'"
-Craig Santos Perez, author of Unincorporated Territory
"With The Book of Fools, Sam Taylor has introduced a truly new and absolutely necessary disturbance into the field. All too often, memory and memoir serve as a baroque means of concealment; here, there is very purest disclosure...and by that I mean disclosure at the molecular level. In Taylor's ravishing text, the atoms of every image are seen to shiver and to shimmer. It is as though Taylor knows exactly what is at stake in the gamble of utterance. The Book of Fools is thrilling to witness and believe."
"Sam Taylor's new book is a masterwork: a modern epic that drives toward our planetary grief with exhilarating invention and 'a plastic Byzantium' that invokes everything from the Pacific Plastic Gyre to Orpheus in a clam bar, from border crossings of 'illegal' people to Picasso, Matisse, Dylan, and Isadora Duncan. Yet, at its heart is one story, the story of the good son and the lost mother-or, is it the lost son and the good mother? The story is spun back so many times that with each rendering different figures seem to emerge as the book erases and revises itself before our eyes. This self-erasure has something to do with loss and something to do with healing and retrieval, but eventually we realize that the deeply personal story, shocking sometimes in its candor, is told less for its own sake than as a figure for our shared experience and as a study of reality, trauma, art, and myth. This is Taylor at the height of his game, and these poems, meaningfully bursting out of their own language, are a brilliant display of his powers."
-David Keplinger, author of The World to Come
"Sam Taylor's gorgeous new book lets the tensions of story and lyric unspool and weave, sink and surface, erase and reveal themselves. Taylor's numerous formal strategies in THE BOOK OF FOOLS resists a single reading, and each reentry reveals more secrets inside the plasticity of both language and memory. Recursive, archetypal and heartbreaking, this book takes you through the subterranean realms of grief to rescue bright moments of intimacy and love among the shipwreck of familial history. Taylor writes: "prose is what we add to myth" but myth is also what he disentangles, investigates, and introduces us all to the many ways of knowing if we listen more deeply."