Written by Ann Taylor
Published by Ravenna Press
Review by Meredith Allard
As the executive editor of a literary journal, I read hundreds of submissions a year. Every once in a while, we’re lucky enough to receive work from an author who makes us stand up and take notice. Ann Taylor is one of those authors. Her chapbook The River Within (winner of the inaugural Cathlamet Prize for Poetry from Ravenna Press) has everything I love in poetry. Her language is precise and controlled yet maintains a fluid, musical quality. While her poems are succinct in size, they are large enough in scope to reflect life-truths about matters great and small.
It’s no surprise that I love the historical references in Taylor’s poems. She touches on everything from “Cleopatra’s Conquest” to “Annie Oakley: Peerless Lady Wing-Shot,” and she even introduces us to “Jenny and Charles,” which refers to Charles Darwin and his favorite orangutan at the London Zoo. But while history plays an important role in many of Taylor’s poems, we’re also treated to her thoughts about the natural world, about her family, and about her university students. As a long-time teacher myself, I related strongly to her poem “Spectral” about how she lives on in the minds of her students as their “reading ghost” long after they’ve finished her class. Most literature teachers hope to have such far-reaching influences on their students. And I must admit to a special attachment to “To Carry on With the Dying” since we chose it for our 10th Anniversary Edition of The Copperfield Review.
The River Within is an excellent example of a talented poet at the top of her game. Whether you love history, mythology, travel, the natural world, or your family, you will find poetry that suits your fancy in The River Within.
Meredith Allard is the Executive Editor of The Copperfield Review.