from The Book of Fools by Sam Taylor

A Process Note


This is the first of three sections of a book-length experimental poem. The Book of Fools: An Essay in Memoir and Verse develops new structures to marry global, ecological themes of loss—focused around the conditions of our oceans—to personal, confessional ones. The book is simultaneously a craft essay about the artistic quest, the process of aesthetic and compositional choice, and the relationship between truth, nonfiction, fiction, and myth. As such, it purposefully exposes the process of composition.

Self-erasure, strike-throughs, and grayscale are also used to score a more complex relationship between the said and unsaid; to create polyphonic tensions and resonances between alternate texts; and to embody loss, haunting, and retrieval in a tangible, textual underworld. In pieces that feature self-erasure, the full poem was first written, and then an erasure was netted within it; I intend for each piece to be read similarly, first in its entirety and then for the dark text to be added as an echo presence. The metaphorical journey to the underworld and the narrative journey to the sea represent the two central motifs of the book. I try to hang individual lyric experiments from a larger narrative arc to achieve a greater range of aesthetic possibility and emotional effect without sacrificing reader accessibility. For further comments on the process of composition, see OmniVerse and the Colorado Review.




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Sam Taylor is the author of two books of poems, Body of the World (Ausable/Copper Canyon) and Nude Descending an Empire (Pitt Poetry Series). A recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, he is an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Wichita State University, and his work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Agni, and The New Republic. You can find him on the web at