Thursday, May 29, at 7:00 p.m.
“Sifting the Uneven Archive: Researching the The Forage House"
By Tess Taylor
In this program, poet Tess Taylor will recount how a residency here at the AAS helped her as she researched and wrote her latest book of poems, The Forage House. Her poems layer oral histories, documents, and folksongs to craft an exploration of her ancestors- a mix of New England missionaries and Southern slave owners, including Thomas Jefferson. Taylor's poems are as much about the imperfect material of family stories as they are about the politically charged material of history. Natasha Trethewey, our current poet laureate, described The Forage House as “a brave and compelling collection that bears witness to the journey of historical discovery. Sifting through archives, artifact, and souvenir, Taylor presents dialectic of what’s recorded and what is not, unearthing the traces that give way to her own history – and a vital link to our shared American past.” The San Francisco Chronicle called The Forage House “stunning.” The Oxford American says, “On their own, the poems are visceral, densely detailed, and frequently playful... Read together, in order, the details are illuminated by context and gain historical sweep.” Taylor researched The Forage House as a Robert and Charlotte Baron Creative Artist Fellow in 2006.
Tess Taylor’s poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, The Times Literary Supplement, and The New Yorker. She currently reviews poetry for NPR’s All Things Considered and teaches writing at the University of California, Berkeley.