(photo: Richard Tayson)

(photo: Richard Tayson)

Richard Tayson is an award-winning poet and writer with three books and over fifty journal and anthology publications to his credit.  His writing has won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships (nonfiction in 2014, and poetry in 2003).  He is also a freelance editor who has helped hone to publication numerous works by his clients.  His listing in the directory of Poets & Writers is available here.  Tayson, who lives in Queens, New York, teaches poetry workshops for the New School Writing Program.


(screenshot: Richard Tayson)

(screenshot: Richard Tayson)

Tayson's Story

Tayson received his B.A. from Colorado State University, his M.A. from New York University's Graduate Program in Creative Writing, and his Ph.D. from City University of New York's Graduate Center.  After being introduced to poetry writing by Mary Crow, former poet laureate of Colorado, and graduating with distinction from CSU's English Department, he moved to New York to study with Sharon Olds and the late Galway Kinnell at NYU.  Olds, who became Tayson's thesis advisor, encouraged Tayson to complete the poems that would become his first book, The Apprentice of Fever, Marilyn Hacker's choice for the 1997 Wick Poetry Prize, published by the Kent State University Press.  Olds also hired him to team-teach a writing workshop at a New York facility for the physically disabled, where he met Julia Tavalaro.  Tayson helped Tavalaro write a memoir concerning awakening from a coma only to discover that she was paralyzed and couldn't communicate with those around her who assumed she was non-cognitive.  Tavalaro's story was told by Rick Meyer in the Los Angeles Times, Erika Duncan of the New York Times,  and Look Up for Yes , the memoir that Tavalaro and Tayson wrote over a three-year period (on a hand-held letterboard, a chin-activated computer, and a old-fashioned Brother typewriter).  Look Up for Yes, published by Viking-Penguin in 1998, was reviewed by Paula Friedman in the New York Times, and Tayson joined Tavalaro on Dateline NBC, Lifetime's Beyond Chance (with Melissa Etheridge) and Germany's public television show, ZDF-Kulturzeit, which helped make the German translation of Look Up for Yes a bestseller.  In 1998 the Library of Congress presented an audio version for the blind, and Reader's Digest published a condensed version in Germany, Australia, and the U.S., where Look Up for Yes was reviewed in many other print sources, including Rocky Mountain News, Kirkus Reviews, Newsday, Knoxville News Sentinel, Booklist, and Publisher's Weekly.

By the time Look Up for Yes was published, Tayson had already begun teaching online poetry workshops at the New School, but after Maggie Anderson, Director of the Wick Poetry Program, organized an onsite class for him to teach at Kent State University, Tayson found what he'd been looking for:  the interaction, based upon inquiry into the imagination, of a group of writers discussing their craft.  He soon began teaching onsite workshops at the New School, and after he was hired to direct the Writers at Rutgers reading series, he left his job as Office Manager for the architect Philip Johnson and began teaching and running the reading series full time.  He met some of the most celebrated writers of our time--Jhumpa Lahiri, Linda Gregg, Paule Marshall, Frank Bidart, Toi Derricotte--and he began a friendship with the poet Alicia Ostriker.  He soon was awarded a Chancellor's Fellowship to study at CUNY's Graduate Center, where he dedicated himself to earning his Ph.D.  In 2008 his second book of poems, The World Underneath, was published, also by Kent State University Press, and in 2012 Tayson completed his dissertation, Ghostly Language and Liminal Experience:  William Blake, Romantic Discourse on the Sublime, and American Punk Sound.  He received his doctorate in 2013.

Tayson, who recently appeared on Backstory Radio and The Poetry Foundation's "Off the Shelf," is contributing editor of Pleiades:  A Journal of New Writing (and Reviews).  He wrote the foreword to the restorative edition of Walt Whitman's "Live-Oak, with Moss."  He is a freelance editor and is now completing a memoir titled Alternate Means of Transport:  A Memoir of Chance Encounters with Eight Famous Women.

Photo: José Suarez

Tayson's publication history includes work in Best of Prairie Schooner, Flicker and Spark, American Poetry:  Next Generation, Reader's Digest:  Today’s Best Nonfiction (Germany, Australia, the United States), Things Shaped in Passing: More 'Poets for Life' Writing from the AIDS Pandemic, Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses XXI, Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Hanging Loose, The Next of Us Is About to Be Born:  The Wick Poetry Series Anthology In Celebration of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Wick Poetry Center, Crazyhorse, Michigan Quarterly Review, Sleep:  Bedtime Reading, Word of Mouth, Pleiades:  A Journal of New Writing (and Reviews), the Advocate, Colorado Review,  The James White Review, Tar River Poetry, Virginia Quarterly, Washington Square, Painted Bride Quarterly, Global City Review, Hanging Loose, Academy of American Poets’ website, The Gay and Lesbian Review, and Bloom.

Tayson has given readings and conference presentations at New York University, Columbia University, New School University, City University of New York’s Graduate Center, Rutgers University, Kent State University, Colorado State University, Associated Writing Programs, University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado at Denver, Queensborough Community College, National Arts Club, Bowery Poetry Club, Mid-Manhattan Library, Princeton Library, Queens Library (Briarwood), Queens Library (Jackson Heights), Highland Park Library, Moe Green Poetry Hour, National Public Radio’s Poetry Off the Shelf, St. John the Divine, Cornelia Street Café, KGB Bar, Dixon Place, Barnes and Noble Astor Place, Barnes and Noble Chelsea, Living Theater, Bryant Park, Blake Society (London), Northeast Modern Language Association, Modern Language Association, and the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism.