Nude Descending an Empire
Sam Taylor's Nude Descending an Empire is a book that has large ambitions—and overwhelmingly succeeds at all of them. The voice here works at so many dimensions: spiritual, political, erotic, sensually worldly and quietly lyrical—and probably a dozen more! Few poets are able to write well in just one or two of these realms. That Taylor can do so much—he marries Frank O'Hara and Merwin, Whitman and Dante, your latest local radio report and science fiction!—is amazing in and of itself. And, then, when you take a breath and sit down hard reading this book, his gift at incantatory syntax takes this amazement to a wholly different level—you stand up, you read these poems aloud. I love the many lives of this book: his life as Sioux, Jew, a Christian peasant, and many others. I love how he curses and praises and sexes in the same poem, often in the same moment. Sam Taylor is a poet to reckon with, a poet to live with, a poet to marvel at. This is a wonderful book.