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Work and Days characters ↠ 7 ↠ In 2010 Tess Taylor was awarded the Amy Clampitt Fellowship Her prize A rent free year in a cottage in the Berkshires where she could finish a first book But Taylor—outside the city for the first time in nearly a decade and trying to conceive her first child—found herself alone To break up her days she began to intG leeks turning compost and weeding kale In this calendric cycle of 28 poems Taylor describes the work of this year considering what attending to vegetables on a small field might achieve now Against a backdrop of drone strikes “methamphetamine and global economic crisis” these poems embark on a rich exploration of season self food and p. So often when I read a book that won an award or came from a celebrated new poet I am disappointed often amused to try to imagine the criteria for selection Not so with regard to Tess Taylor and her collection Work Days There are many fine lines and some fine poems in this gathering of verse inspired by hands on farming and the reading of Virgil Hesiod and Clare The imagery of scent and sound and sight demonstrate Taylor's knowledge of gleaning from the soilCold Trollsthe hills even asfrozen lakes grow cloudUnearthing rocks is like dislodging angerLas night I woketo wild unfrozen prattleRain on the roof a foreign liuid tongueShe weaves her biography including a miscarriage into the soil of her reading of old poetry and the daily news and the hard working of the land The baby I planted this yearwas only tissueIts sac was empty soil blackI bow into the absencebroadcasts poppy harvests and bombingslimbs shattering in another country Taylor's work is vital in language that is not forced although sometimes choppy Her emotions are not forced but as real as the mud and green and dying into winter For here planing words or seeds is the same faith and dutyWe bow to the worksame not same our scattered arts removing removing the stones from our soil

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In 2010 Tess Taylor was awarded the Amy Clampitt Fellowship Her prize A rent free year in a cottage in the Berkshires where she could finish a first book But Taylor outside the city for the first time in nearly a decade and trying to conceive her first child found herself alone To break up her days she began to intern on a small farm plantin. The first poem by Tess Taylor I discovered was Apocalypto w Radio which is an astute and moving observation of climate change in the midst of an ice storm She writes how hard it is for humans to envisage global change or anything outside our immediate experience it is hard to fathom any road beyond the road you're on to think of summer overheating this cold world to imagine summer from inside a mountain storm This poem is contained within Work and Days which is a series of poems about nature and climate seen through the lens of a year spent working on farms Taylor is excellent at capturing how the very small the tomatoes currently being harvested can echo the global This collection is also about creation the creation of food for the body and food for the spirit and the magic of conception and birth Taylor writes about tilling the soil removing stones and debris and how this evokes the creation of poems and other art as in her poem Method In the dirt you dig fragments Turn them and ponder These poems are full of beautiful jewel like images and are enjoyable to read she uses expansive free verse lines that fall easily into the mind However though I found this collection worthwhile and engaging at times it left me somewhat cold it's repetitive with certain refrains turning up again and again such as the idea of fruit and vegetables making sugar out of light This idea isn't originally expressed and it does not have the weight to make the repetitions feel earned I also take issue with nature poetry that is relentlessly pretty there are many aspects of our relationship with nature that are pitiless painful or frankly disgusting A collection of nature poems that does not address this rings hollow as in Mud Season when Taylor describes black fruit swings free of the strings that bound it and grotesue extruded peppers These descriptions are too vague and do not get to the heart of the rotten post snow season In Harvest Fair I was annoyed by lines like Anthropomorphic gourds on a trencher this isn't clear Does Taylor mean that there are carved pumpkins Does she mean suashes and marrows that look phallic What's a trencher in this context All of this being said Taylor is clearly an accomplished poet and the conceit of looking at the year and the wider climate crisis through the lens of farm work is very successful This is a rich delicately balanced collection full of beauty and passion for the natural world

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Work and DaysLace Threading through the farm poets Hesiod Virgil and John Clare Taylor revisits the project of small scale farming at the troubled beginning of the 21st century In poems full of bounty loss and the mysteries of the body Taylor offers a rich severe memorable meditation about what it means to try to connect our bodies and our time on earth. We too are small against great constellationsWe plant when the sun shines We augur prayBorrowed this from my roommate since I was seduced by the Hesiod reference It's a nice slim volume of very readable modern pastoral poetry I use pastoral pretty loosely here but as a description its a good one The poems are half farming lifenature imagery half rumination I'd say the thing that stood out the most was the readability the poems are just very accessible Some beauty here and there a dash of the tragic routine routine routine Give it a read if you want some poetic farm life in your lifeTime on EarthiNew to country stars you tryto identify the constellationsCassiopeia Andromeda You half forget their storiesBut on warming nights you see them your throat fills with hymnssome ancestral body's holdfast tunesto which your words are also blurred or blurring