Body of the World
Ausable/Copper Canyon Press
2006 ForeWord Reviews, Poetry Book of the Year finalist
"One of the most astonishing first books I have encountered in years."
A book of contemporary spirituality that confronts suffering and attempts to reconcile it with a unitary vision of the divine, Body of the World explores the perennial themes of mysticism—of the world as the self—in a variety of new contexts.
"Sam Taylor’s Body of the World is one of the most astonishing first books I have encountered in years. I know of no other American poet quite like him. . . His poems read like the quantum theory funneled through language where the processes that make up a moment of experience combust in a transference or transformation of energy. His poems enact, they do not simply describe or reflect (we are worlds away from Wordsworthian moments recollected in tranquility). Modern physics tells us that every bush is in fact a burning bush, a molecular blaze. One could say the same for Sam Taylor’s poems. And what holds their fire together is his hard wrought, exacting craft. The poems in Body of the World are strange, haunting anthems of our mortal world. I read them with pleasure and with wonder."
— Joseph Stroud, Author of Below Cold Mountain and Of This World (Copper Canyon Press)
“ . . . simply gorgeous. . . Like Blake and Yeats, Taylor is driven by a visionary yoking of opposites, as well as a predilection for seeing the vast in the tiny, the specific. But the diction here is thoroughly current, all-embracing, and bracing. Image and music are equaled by sheer nerve--and also by an almost palpable, sensate compassion. . . What this adds up to: an almost impossible, vertiginous beauty, a conviction of inextricable connection between all things and beings--and, by whatever name (preferably none), their inherent divinity.”
“Taylor’s gift for poetic detail is tremendous, rendering the world so that it is simultaneously seen and understood . . . Taylor weaves powerful stories within the microcosm of his poems rather than relying on the overall structure of his book. Terrific narrative agility and lyrical syntax, the strongest devices in Taylor’s arsenal, enable this lyric self-reliance. . . [M]any of the moments in this book [are] a knockout.”
“... frankly, I believe that ‘shaking the tree’ is something that poetry ought to do occasionally, and Mr. Taylor's thoughtful, evocative 'paintings' certainly alter the weary worldview of much of contemporary poetry by fragmentation and a kind of kaleidoscopic reassembly of the pieces. But far from being ‘language’ poetry, Mr. Taylor never leaves the concrete-iron-willed connection with the things of this earth. Indeed, of the earth itself... The often painful isolation of his imagery is balanced by an examination of the small-scale tragic with a way of looking at experience which affirms a kind of spiritual grace even in the face of pain. We feel for his subjects even as we see the sense that distance gives events. This is a book to which you return again and again without fully understanding why.”
“Sam Taylor’s first book of poetry is strange and delicious... By leading readers in with the meditative and pulling them out with the worldly, Taylor performs a rare feat: he explodes the moment of experience into a justified complexity, an earned density.”
--Virginia Quarterly Review