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Henry Taylor


Born on June 21, 1942, Henry Taylor's collections of poetry include Understanding Fiction: Poems 1986-1996 (Louisiana State University Press, 1996); The Flying Change (1985), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize; An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards (1975), and The Horse Show at Midnight (1966). He was born in Virginia, and attended the University of Virginia where he was active in the drama club, and was also a talented equestrian.

Taylor is the recipient of the Witter Bynner Foundation Poetry Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Golden Crane Award of the Washington Chapter of the American Literary Translators Association, and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He has also translated several works from Bulgarian, French, Hebrew, Italian, and Russian, including Black Book of the Endangered Species (1999) by the Bulgarian poet Vladimir Levchev. He lives in Leesburg, Virginia, and is a professor of literature and co-director of the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at American University in Washington, D.C.

Henry Taylor
Photo credit: Melissa Laitsch

By This Poet


A Crosstown Breeze

A drift of wind
when August wheeled
brought back to mind
an alfalfa field

where green windrows
bleached down to hay
while storm clouds rose
and rolled our way.

With lighthearted strain
in our pastoral agon
we raced the rain
with baler and wagon,

driving each other
to hold the turn
out of the weather
and into the barn.

A nostalgic pause
claims we saved it all,
but I’ve known the loss
of the lifelong haul;

now gray concrete
and electric light
wear on my feet
and dull my sight.

So I keep asking,
as I stand here,
my cheek still basking
in that trick of air,

would I live that life
if I had the chance,
or is it enough
to have been there once?

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