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Richard Tayson

Richard Tayson’s second book of poetry, The World Underneath is forthcoming in 2007 (Kent State); his first book of poetry, The Apprentice of Fever (Kent State, 1998), won the Wick Poetry Prize. His other awards include a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Prairie Schooner’s Edward Stanley Award, and a Pushcart Prize.


Dark Theater

Summer 2006 | Poetry

  Make no mistake: when you were born, the world did not want you. Did not need another with precisely your dormant talents. Stars shone of their own accord, not because of you, as they say in songs someone will one day play for you, looking [...]

First Night

Summer 2006 | Poetry

  for Rohan My first night home, after we’d kissed a long time then drunk half a bottle of wine, tasting summer orchard heavy with the heat they say you must pass through to enter the gates of heaven, removing your shoes and cotton socks for [...]

The Casualties of Walt Whitman

Spring 2005 | Essays

In a journal I kept the summer before moving to New York in 1990 to study creative writing at NYU, I find an odd entry about Walt Whitman. I had been reading D. H. Lawrence's essay “Whitman,” published in 1923, and I agreed with his statement that “Something is overdone in Whitman; there is something that is too much.” “I finally found someone,” I wrote, “who speaks sensibly about Whitman's exaggerated mass of deafening declarations!” I was then under the spell of Rilke and Yeats (so much so that in the list of qualities on the facing page that I found essential for a long-term relationship with a man, I find “European” at the top). Whitman hurt my ears—he sounded arrogant, brash, positively overwhelming in the length of his poems, in his long lists, his parallel structures, his biblical rhythms. I felt trapped by Whitman: once he hooked his voice in my head, I had a difficult time extricating it. Though this would soon change, especially after I met Galway Kinnell, who cites Whitman as his “principal master,” before I arrived at the writing workshop, I wanted to shrug off Whitman’s kisses and his forever-reaching arms, his beard, his boots, his surging afflatus, that open-collared shirt, and, oddly enough, his manly muscle.