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Keith Taylor

 

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and though it too leads off with the Rapture, it is terrific. Taylor imagines himself left behind by his holier family members, "alone in a world/of smokers, crooks, murderers/. . . alone in a world/without one hope of grace." He is not just too guilty to make the cut at the Rapture, it seems, but also rapturous to be free from those oppressively good souls.

Taylor, a stalwart pillar of the Ann Arbor writing community (and a regular Observer contributor), has been writing wonderful poems for years. The new book combines older and fresh works, and the result is a vivid, readable collection that is funny, moving, and very alive. Taylor plays all of poetry's themes. There are nature poems, love poems, and growing-old poems. War lurks at the edges, along with the scars of a violent childhood. But his central preoccupation is redemption. Like a character from Flannery O'Connor, Taylor seems to long for and reject it in equal measure. He knows the world is an imperfect place, and he mourns and celebrates its imperfections by turn. In "As Close As We Will Ever Be," he speaks to his dying best friend: "You want the miracles back again/and so do I," but as he helps his friend shave, he admits "I'm afraid of this touch./It's as close as we will ever be." The world, and this poem, can break your heart.

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