When Rob Taylor was awaiting the arrival of his first child, he took on the task of writing a poem a week during his wife's pregnancy, about her pregnancy. The poems that make up
The News (Gaspereau Press) are a collection from those weeks that contemplate fatherhood and the absurdity and violence of the world in which children are born into.
Rob Taylor: The News is a collection of poems I wrote one-per-week throughout my wife’s pregnancy with our first child. The poems speak of the “news” of the pregnancy, while weaving in the political news of the moment (ISIS, police shootings, the migrant crisis, etc.) and works of philosophy and literature (as Ezra Pound put it, “the news that stays news”). It’s a book about balancing what’s been, what is, and what’s to come.
ALU: Do you read poetry as a self-care technique? What books in particular have helped you?
RT: I write poetry as a self-care technique. It’s a way to make sense of my life: to gain perspective on it, and sometimes a necessary distance. Especially now, with a few books out there, a two-and-a-half year old perpetually tugging at my pant leg (see question #1), and mounting financial/work pressures (see previous item in this list), using my limited free time to write a poem feels unjustifiable for all reasons other than my own rescue. Luckily, I’m often in need of rescue.
The writers who have most helped me are “confessional” poets. It is such a humbling and clarifying experience to read a book and feel like you’ve had a whole life presented to you on the page (as artificial as that may be). One poet in particular who I often return to is Nora Gould, whose first two poetry books, I see my love more clearly from a distance and Selah, were essential to me in thinking about, and writing, The News.
ALU: If you wrote a memoir, what would it be called?
RT: The Poems Succumbed to Market Forces.
ALU: What books are you currently reading?
RT: I just finished Lincoln on the Bardo by George Saunders and The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O’Connor and I’m enjoying how the two of them are chatting away in my head (Saunders does most of the talking). I’m almost finished Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant and Elemental by Kate Braid. Next up are Mortal Arguments by Sue Sinclair, Years, Months and Days by Amanda Jernigan, and Rain Shadow by Nicholas Bradley.
That’s the trouble with being a poet during poetry month: there are so many events to attend, but all you want to do is hunker down with the new books!
Anonymous. A lima bean, they say.
No eyes or brain beneath
the flesh and blood and membrane
of my wife. But O my burning baby anchors love within me. One day
you’ll wonder if any of this matters,
if you and it share a common bond,
if Love’s a word we pin to things
thin-skinned enough to pierce.
I sit in bed beside you both—
you and the idea of what you’ll be—
and listen as your mother breathes
for three. If we lose you what of you
will linger? If you last how will this
breathing, burning love divide,
sustain, and multiply? When I speak of it,
many years from now, to whom will
I be speaking? My dear, my darling, do you hear me where you sleep?
Rob Taylor is the author of three poetry collections, including The News (Gaspereau Press), which was a finalist for the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. In 2014 he was named one of the inaugural writers-in-residence at the Al Purdy A-frame, and in 2015 he received the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for the Literary Arts, as an emerging artist. Rob lives with his family in Port Moody, BC, where he helps coordinate Vancouver’s Dead Poets Reading Series.
All Lit Up is produced by the Literary Press Group and LitDistCo. LPG and LitDistCo acknowledge the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.
All views expressed by bloggers and contributors to the All Lit Up blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of All Lit Up or the Literary Press Group.
All Lit Up acknowledges we are hosted on the lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. We also recognize the enduring presence of all First Nations, Métis and the Inuit people, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to meet and work on this territory.