Praise for The World Underneath
"Reading Richard Tayson's The World Underneath rejoices my heart and gives me a little hope for both humanity and poetry. I read with awe the sequence in which this gay poet attends his sister-in-law's home delivery of a son, after flying 'over one of the nineteen states/ that still puts people like me/in prison. O Texas, O Tennessee,/ sweet Georgia with your one-to-twenty/ years felony.' Tayson's language is fast-moving, passionate, compassionate--alive with physical, spiritual and political detail that makes him heir to Muriel Rukeyser." --Alicia Suskin Ostriker
"In an age when confessional poetry and the lyric are under greater pressure to submit to the disjunctive, it is ever more pleasing to return to a voice such as Richard Tayson's." --Walter Holland, Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing (and Reviews)
“Richard Tayson sees the world through the eyes of a man dedicated to love. His poems walk the walk of a poet willing to open that world and look at it for what it is, its joys and terrors, even when he must look at his own dark insides. I especially rejoice for his poems of intimacy and friendship with women, women who he sees not as ‘other,’ but as people struggling with the same concerns that he has. This sensibility is a rare contribution to our literature! In The World Underneath, the poems are all love poems whose beauty and authority convince me of the depth of the poet's journey. His poems are easy to enter--you may feel that you are talking to a best friend--so easy to enter you might not notice the twin knives of truth and lyricism they have been held up to.” —Toi Derricotte
“Richard Tayson’s The World Underneath is a series of passionate visions, stunning in their directness and emotional power. They bear witness to birth and the body’s miracles, to homophobic violence and unspeakable losses, and to the tensile strength of love and loyalty that connects us against the odds. Awe and fierce anger sing in these poems, as the questing spirit in them seeks to grow large enough to include us all.” ––Joan Larkin
"It’s a rare treat when a poet achieves such mature work as these gritty poems, celebrating his epiphanic moments, among them the miracles of childbirth and his blissful life with his lover. Even his dark rage against the injustice of homophobic violence comes not out of weakness but from strength. What makes these poems even more satisfying is how they burst into flame, into verbal explosions, scattering a glitter of magic."
"With his second book of poetry, Richard Tayson delivers mightily on the promise of his wonderful debut collection, The Apprentice of Fever. . . . While moving through bodies and time and space, while exploring the world underneath facile surfaces, the reader is brought face-to-face with mortaility, hate, and complacency, but also with compassion, understanding, and the higher self." --Lambda Book Report
Praise for The Apprentice of Fever
"The Apprentice of Fever is a brilliantly corporeal first book, focused with lapidary clarity on the transfiguration of quotidian experience, its appetites, its unassuageable longings. . . . Tayson has also created formally complex longer sequences which synthesize the mythic and the erotic and raise them to Rilkean meditations." --Marilyn Hacker
“The superiority affected by elegance in these AIDS days might well achieve its tolerance limit in Mark Doty's poems in My Alexandria. . . .I prefer the blunter lines of "Blood Test," a poem by the emerging poet Richard Tayson. . . .Stagy in its own way, yet genuinely and properly dramatic, Tayson’s [work] evokes and registers in its very form the anxiety and anguish of these AIDS days to about the same degree that Doty's poem is unfailingly about its own 'grace.'" --Calvin Bedient, Parnassus
“In their attention to mixed ingredients of dailiness, their intimacy and nurturing and angish, the poems bear comparison to Paul Monette’s Love Alone. --Lambda Book Report
“Wherever Tayson’s muse leads him next, his technical virtuosity will make him worth reading.” --Oyster Boy Review
“Tayson is exposed and controlled.” --The Village Voice
Praise for Look Up for Yes
"Ms. Tavalaro's enormous capacity to battle devastating misfortune is on display in her memoir, Look Up for Yes, written with the poet Richard Tayson. But her gifts extend beyond a fierce will for self-recognition, for she is endowed with extraordinary powers of memory and description that enable her to convey her experiences vividly" --The New York Times, "Books in Brief"
“It’s unusual for a true-life story that does not involve murder to be as gripping as this one.” --Knoxville News Sentinel
"Readers may find it profoundly troubling, though not surprising, that attitudes still lag behind technology. Still, Tavalaro's continuing fight for her independent self benefits us all. Recommended." --Library Journal
"This spirited soul teaches us about astonishing determination and intellect. Her reminder: 'No one knows how dark the night is until you can't speak into it.'" --Rocky Mountain News
“The story of [Julia Tavalaro’s] courage testifies to the endurance of the human spirit” --Publishers Weekly
"A true story of unbelievable courage and persistence." --Booklist
"Worthy for the powerful insight it gives into the lives of the disabled" -- Kirkus Reviews
“Richard Tayson, a genius poet in his own right and an insightful and compassionate editor, helped me hone each poem in [White Trash Pantheon] into shiny bullets aimed at the heart of America's dysfunctional culture.
“I cannot thank Richard enough, nor can I praise his work in sufficient terms to impart to you how wholly I trust his own craft as a writer. I would call him the best poet working today, bar none, with the greatest ambition to speak of important matters in his work. I could not have asked for a better pair of eyes to scan my text and to help me express what I needed desperately to say.
With enormous thanks, I endorse him to all aspiring poets serious about their craft.”
“I first found Richard Tayson through Alicia Ostriker who recommended him as a careful and talented writer and editor. We talked on the phone and through email as I told him about my manuscript that I had sent to many contests the year before to no avail. When I found Richard, I was at a point where I didn't want to give up on the manuscript but I also didn't know what I could do to move it forward. From the beginning of working with Richard, I felt lucky. Although he is an award winning poet who is widely published, he was so warm, humble and supportive that I didn't get intimidated. He was willing to meet with me personally once he read and commented on the manuscript, a generosity that I really appreciated in this make-all-comments-with-track-changes world of editing.
“. . . I was thrilled by the caliber of his insights. It felt like he had crawled right inside of my words, had embodied the text, which allowed him to come up with innovative and creative suggestions that made all of the difference in how the manuscript sounded and looked. He helped me pull poems up to the front that I was too scared to highlight. He helped me to see the central theme for the volume that I am guessing was there all along but I hadn't been able to find myself. And, he made subtle but important editorial changes on some of the poems that moved them from regular poems to poems that popped. The few hours we spent together were among the most productive of my life. I left the restaurant to get back on the bus thinking that I had been given a big gift--his sensitivity, ingenuity, humor, gentle mannerisms and enthusiasm for my work gave me a big burst of confidence. I left flying, and took that energy with me as I made the revisions he suggested.
“It is hard to know what helps people win contests--and not. The process seems so fickle and unpredictable to me. But I can say that after working with Richard, the manuscript I then submitted (to a smaller, hand picked number of contests that Richard suggested) led to Zero is the (W)hole I Fall into at Night being chosen as an editor's selection at Main Street Rag Press (which included publication of the manuscript). And a chapbook version of the book won the Creative Justice Chapbook Poetry Prize for 2011. I know that would not have happened without Richard's expert guidance. . . . He is a truly remarkable editor and poet.”
Author of Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories of Those Healing from Trauma and Zero is the (W)hole I Fall into at Night
Chair, Department of Sociology
“I had the good fortune to work with Richard Tayson twice this year: first as a student in his New School workshop and then as a private student. In both instances, his responses to my work have been extremely helpful and insightful.
“As a private instructor, Richard was focused, encouraging and timely. After our initial meeting to discuss my concerns, he read my manuscript within a week and had so much to offer in terms of general comments and line-edit suggestions. It is rare that a reader can be so skilled at seeing both the big picture and the small details; I know this from the great many writing workshops I have participated in as an undergraduate and graduate student. Richard was also wonderful at pointing out connections between poems, suggesting order changes that might enhance and emphasize those connections to strengthen the book. He took my work and my book very seriously and displayed sensitivity and objectivity in all of his comments. . . . I know I have benefited from studying with him and feel lucky to have had the chance.”
Author of Cool Limbo; Divining Divas: 100 Gay Men on Their Muses; and My Diva: 65 Gay Men and the Women Who Inspire Them
“Richard was exceptionally thorough in reading my manuscript, Samsara. He paid focused attention to line, diction, music and was also very thoughtful about the larger concerns of envisioning the poems as a book. Richard's commentary on arrangement helped me highlight and amplify my themes. His manner was serious and respectful, and his response was timely. I was motivated to get back to work on my manuscript after meeting with him, and I followed most of his editing suggestions as I revised. I was thrilled to let him know that Samsara was accepted for publication several months later. I recently referred Richard to a poet friend looking for assistance in pulling her manuscript together, and I will continue to recommend him to anyone interested in taking their work to a deeper level.”
“Dr. Richard Tayson, one of the finest, most dedicated teachers I have ever met.
“In the fall of 2009 I made the decision to leave a forty-year career in photography (both as practitioner and teacher) to pursue the Muse of Poetry, a lifetime ambition, a big risk. While I had read poetry throughout my life, I had never written it. Could I succeed? I would become a student again, enroll in courses, but additionally, I would look for a mentor in the traditional master/apprentice mode. Feeling reserved about this dramatic change in my life, I wished to begin with an online class. I contacted the New School, because of its reputation as a powerful educational center with the policy of hiring the top-notch professors. Immediately, I was drawn by the title of Richard Tayson’s course: From Silence to Poem. The description stated: 'Beginning and advanced writers work on dismantling silences in their lives and generating poems from personal experience. We work in a safe, functional community to open hidden places within ourselves…'
“The class far surpassed Dr. Tayson’s promise. From the first assignment on Sonics, the mysterious music of words, Dr. Tayson enthralled us. He gave online lectures, provided background material, additional sites to visit, past and present poets to read—all via his enthusiastic, articulate voice. He tailored the program to meet each student’s needs. Through the vibrancy of his written words, I felt I could hear Dr. Tayson speak. He read our poems, carefully, thoughtfully, annotated each throughout, and then challenged us to expand our thinking, to fly with imagination, to loosen all inhibitions in the quest to discover our own voices. We became miners of our pasts, seekers in historical and contemporary history and culture, participants in established and avant garde literature, far beyond the poetic genre. Since we could read each other’s work and Dr. Tayson’s responses, the semester was one of the most invigorating educational dialogues I have ever experienced.
“At the course’s conclusion I took another risk: I wrote to Dr. Tayson asking if he might continue working with me on a private basis. He agreed. Every six months I provide a manuscript, he reads and writes his comments and we meet for discussion. I am constantly amazed at the depth of his reading, the breadth of his knowledge across disciplines from philosophy to politics, from art to modern music—and his generosity. This is the master/apprentice relationship I sought. I am filled with deep gratitude and great admiration for Dr. Tayson.”
“Thank you for all of your insights this past semester. The way you have pushed us to critique ourselves and always push for revisions has given me a lot of 'juice' for my artistic endeavors. Furthermore, I have to say that "The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver and Triggering Towns were two of the most life changing pieces I have been shown throughout my college career, so I thank you immensely for including them in the syllabus! There is an odd, intangible, way that poetry and music composition seem to be so similar to one another, and getting your help through poetry has guided me in insane ways with how I even perceive and think about writing music. From artist to artist, thanks for your guidance.”
Steve Williams, Beginning Poetry Workshop student, New School Online University, Spring 2018
“Thank you for being one of my favorite professors. Because of you, I have improved greatly in my writing. Thank you for never judging my writing. Thank you for making me feel that I should learn on my own rather than rely on other sources. Not only have I become a better writer but someone who can help others with their writing. Once again thank you.”
Kelly Heeralall, Early College Initiative student, Queensborough Community College, Spring 2018
“Richard Tayson opened up a new world for me in understanding and approaching literature with close reading. Admittedly, I have not mastered it yet, especially with poetry. However, I have a solid base to build on. Even films look different and are more enjoyable now. I'm happy I took this class!”
Edward F. Ruiz, student, Queensborough Community College
“There has been a voice in my head since 2003, when Dr. Richard Tayson explained to me that this head is the scariest place in which I will ever be. And, then he guided me into, and through, it, setting alight the darkness and sketching a map.
“Dr. Tayson introduced me to the strengths that swam alongside my insecurities, and gave me the tools to separate them. He introduced me to talent I did not know I had buried within the confines of my private journal and secret dreams, by showing me the way I had been muting myself. He asked me questions no one before him had ever cared to ask a college student; and, he listened! Receiving my brilliant professor’s approval and respect showed me that my words matter.
“. . . Instead of scolding me for doodling in class, as other teachers had, and writing me off as the disinterested student, he pointed out that my sketches were representative of thoughts. Richard Tayson engaged me, and the rest of my class, in custom-learning that felt one-on-one, even in a large group, as he introduced us to ourselves, and the processes through which we think and work. We became productive global citizens in his class. . . . Students enrolled in Dr. Tayson’s class were ready for this transition into job interviews, because of all he taught us about life, people, and audience.
“Richard Tayson seeks, and finds, the best in people, and in doing so turns weakness into strength. He always listens, just like he did when I first met him, at Rutgers University. He listens because he cares, and this, on top of his extraordinary mind and talent, makes him an exemplary teacher; the kind that changes entire lives, quickly, effectively, and thoughtfully. He is in every sentence I type; every journal entry, poem, article, or greeting card I write; every class I teach. . . . Thank you for being my teacher, and for being my guide – still.”
Dara Courtney Evans
Assistant Professor, English Department
Brookdale Community College