Tag Archives: Keith Taylor

“Autumn on Lake Michigan,” the fourth and final limited-edition print in Glenn’s and Jerry’s series on the seasons of Lake Michigan, is officially launched. See it at our companion site at Big Maple Press. They’ve also released a treasure from the past: their very first collaborative artwork, “Winter’s River,” an ode to paddling in the quiet season…And if you’d like to receive early notification of forthcoming Big Maple Press prints, broadsides, books, chapbooks, and ephemera click on this link and we’ll be delighted to add you to the list….

DaybreakFinalCover10_30_14.inddThe good people at Alice Greene & Co in Ann Arbor have informed us that Jerry’s lovely chapbook of prose/poetry, A Daybreak Handbook, is about to go out of print. As with most chapbooks, when it’s gone, it will be gone forever. We’ve acquired the few remaining copies and can offer them to good homes for $10 each, which includes shipping and sales tax. Take a look here

The Living Great Lakes audiobook is now available in all the usual places, in both digital and CD versions. Thanks to SoundCommentary.com for this terrific review…

Jerry is honored to be the inaugural author in the Great Lakes Author Series produced by Great Lakes Now and Detroit Public TV, who are doing important work on raising awareness about issues facing the Great Lakes and Michigan….

Jerry is now Tweeting about books, nature, and the writing life; if you want to follow him, you can….

Many thanks to Keith Taylor and “Stateside” on Michigan Radio for the fine review of A Walk in the Animal Kingdom….

While we’re tooting our own horn, a 5-star review of A Walk in the Animal Kingdom came our way (and another, here). The three titles in the Wonders of Nature Series are available at our favorite independent bookstores. If you can’t get to an indie store, visit the newly revamped and user-friendly Big Maple Press website or visit the “Books” page here on the J.D. site….

We hope you’ll sign up at the bottom of this page for Jerry’s monthly newsletter, which offers observations on the seasons, updates on works in progress, and insights about the writing life. We promise your address is secure and we will never share it.

WHAT’S LIGHTING US UP: KEITH TAYLOR’S GLADNESS

I WAS A FAN of Keith Taylor’s nature essays and poetry for years before we met, so it’s probably not surprising that I liked him from the first time we shook hands. It was at the first Bear River Writers Conference, on Walloon Lake, Michigan, in 2000, and I liked him so much that I decided we would be friends for life, whether he wanted it or not.

We’ve been pals ever since, and my appreciation for his work just grows stronger. Every Keith Taylor book is extraordinary for its openness, candor, and clarity, and his observations are always sharp and fresh. Consider this, from his new chapbook, Fidelities:

GREEN LIGHT

just for a few weeks, from full summer

into September, on quiet days,

warm, humid but not hot—and the light

above the river turns green, like leaves,

reeds, water weeds or water itself

on its gently inexorable

slide through hills to the blue lakes beyond.

 

Keith travels widely, reads everything, and is one of those people who thinks deeply about the world and our place in it, so I’m always interested in what’s on his mind. I asked him to tell us what he’s been enthusiastic about lately, and his response is pure Taylor:

Oh, I wanted it to be something big! A big book that I could feel was changing my life even as I read it. Proust or Wittgenstein or something! Or something cool out there in the popular culture—a song, a movie, hell, I’d settle for a television show—so I could establish some kind of cultural cred. Or an adventure, undertaken or just planned. Australia, maybe. South Africa. Uzbekistan. Somewhere. Or a poem, one of those that came out of nowhere and just picked up the world, moved it a quarter of an inch, and changed everything (“We must have/the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless/furnace of this world.” Jack Gilbert, “A Brief for the Defense.”). I wanted it to be my rage at oppression and prejudice, but this week I just feel tired. I’m sorry. I’ll be outraged by something next week, I’m sure.

But, no, all I got was one tiny little bird, barely two inches long in a beat-up city park next to a freeway and a factory. A Northern Parula Warbler. A blue-gray back broken around the shoulders by a greenish haze. Two shades of yellow on the upper breast separated by a deep orangish/red band. The lower belly a pure white. It’s song some musical chips followed by a buzzing call. You can see and hear it here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Parula/id.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

It landed just above my head in an invasive honey-suckle early Monday morning, just before a rain shower. It was on it’s way from somewhere in the tropics to its breeding range in the Upper Peninsula or north of Superior. It sang and sang, right into the rain. I had to leave and it was still singing.

And its light has filled me for the past two days. I’m sorry but that’s it. One little bird I saw when I was alone.

—Keith Taylor’s most recent chapbook is Fidelities: A Chronology (http://www.alicegreene.com/publications/fidelities-a-chronology/). He teaches a little at the University of Michigan.

 

WHAT’S LIGHTING US UP: Joshua Davis, pixies in a tub, and why Homer couldn’t see blue

Next week Keith Taylor weighs in with a wonderful tribute to what’s lighting him up (a clue: it has wings). Until then, here’s what I’ve been enjoying this week:

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Joshua Davis

Millions of people have been lit up this spring by the singer/songwriter Joshua Davis, who is one of six remaining contestants on the television talent show, “The Voice.” Joshua, who lives in Traverse City, Michigan, is friends with my son Aaron Dennis and daughter-in-law Chelsea Bay Dennis, and is one of those people who spreads warmth and good will everywhere he goes. His folk/contemporary roots music, his brilliant guitar playing, and his soothing yet edgy vocals are finding a huge and appreciative audience. His rendition of “America” is the best I’ve heard and may have introduced an entire generation to Simon and Garfunkel. And speaking of The Voice, how crazy is it that fellow contestant Sawyer Frederick performed a song this past Monday evening that was written by the singer/songwriter May Erlewine, who lives in northern Michigan and is a close friend of Joshua Davis’s. See May and Seth Bernard perform it here.

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If you’ve read The Remains of the Day you probably assume you know the British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. But maybe not. His new novel, The Buried Giant, is a fable set in post-Arthurian England and features an elderly couple in a village run by a totalitarian committee so strict that they refuse to grant elders the use of candles because they are so old they shouldn’t need them. The couple sets off across the land in search of the son they haven’t seen in years and have nearly forgotten (because a mist of forgetfulness has fallen over the land; rumors say the mist was caused by the breath of a she-dragon.) Their quest leads them to an ogre trapped in a ditch—he had been minding his own business, sitting on the bank above the ditch munching on a goat, when some children pushed him in—and to an encounter with truly terrifying pixies that crawl from a river and swarm over the old woman when she falls asleep in the bottom of a tub while drifting with the current. They meet King Arthur’s last remaining knight, decrepit with age but still mounted on his war-horse and wearing his armor, who patrols the countryside determined to slay dragons though he is apparently in no hurry to do so. It is a strange and mesmerizing novel. Sometimes it can be a bit of a trudge, and I wish Ishiguro had cut away some of the pages of dialogue that add nothing to the story and only serve to turn the characters into gasbags. But much of the novel is so deeply imagined that it might have been pulled from the cenote where our night-dreams are born.
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The other day I was driving to town, in a hurry to be somewhere, when Radiolab came on the radio. I ended up sitting in a parking lot listening and was late for my appointment. If you’re not familiar with this NPR program, I recommend dipping into the archives. In the words of its own website, “Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” It offers complex long-form journalism of the kind I enjoy most and usually find only in books and a few magazines: intellectual detective stories, artfully produced, with surprising and fascinating digressions that circle back to the main storyline with illuminations stuck to them like burrs. It’s thoughtful and smart and often raises as many questions as it answers. The story that made me late, “Why Isn’t the Sky Blue?” (one episode in a series on color), addressed a question I had never thought to ask: Why is the color blue never mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey or Iliad? Many other colors are mentioned, some many times. But blue? Not once. Nor is blue mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas or many other literary documents from ancient times. Why that might be turns out to be strange and unexpected and leaves us with tantalizing questions about the relationship between language and perception. For instance: Can we see a thing if we have no name for it?