"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.
"Once we met (I took a bus from Boston to New York and met him at a restaurant) and he started talking about his suggestions for the manuscript, 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.
"Richard is a principled, serious, funny, easy going, rigorous and careful reader. He hasa feminist consciousness that makes a huge difference in his ability to read embodied poems. He refuses to charge so much money that only the wealthy can afford his expertise (his rates were actually so reasonable, and his work so intensive that I gave him more money than he charged and still he deserved more). He is willing to hand tailor his guidance to meet the sensitivities of those he works with and he understands that, as Audre Lorde taught us, "poetry is not a luxury." His poetry teaches us about what it means for men to really take women's work seriously, for poets to take sexuality, class, and race into account in our writing while still staying committed to beauty in the language. Since working with Richard, I have recommended him to many friends and colleagues. 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 was given a lot to think about in terms of organization, and several of the poems are cleaner and stronger as a result of his edits.
"Overall, Richard was professional, knowledgeable and detailed. He was also easy and fun to work with. 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 is my poetry guardian angel! When I write, it’s as if his gentle, encouraging spirit has my back.
I first met Richard as a student in his poetry classes; he encouraged his students to write their secrets “out loud.” It was exhilarating. Thanks to Richard’s feedback, I’ve now had over 50 poems published in literary journals. He was my editor when it was time to put my poems in order for poetry booklength contests; he has an uncanny knack for visualizing a collection of poems. I may be a good poet, but that’s an ability I most definitely lack!
If you haven’t read his books, stop everything and read them! His poetry and Look Up For Yes will change your life in the most wonderful ways.
His passion for both classic poets and pop culture is just plain cool. You’re my awesomely cool poetry guardian angel, Richard!"
Recording artist (Morning Glory and "Barley Bread & Elder Wine")
"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."
"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.
"He made me aware of the meaning behind the eccentricities and quirks that, prior to meeting him, had just seemed insignificant. 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 classes.
"There, I was provided with the lens, and the language, to analyze poetry and literature. He connected language to form, showing each of us the life our words have, even without us. Dr. Tayson used the class as a built-in audience, illustrating the shift in meaning through our diverse perspectives, pointing out even the small transitions until we understood how to make our intentions clear, or leave them murky with purpose.
"Richard Tayson took every opportunity to teach us about life through writing and reading, and especially through our own poetry. In this way, he gave each of us the opportunity to be the untouchable writers we studied as English majors. This created an entirely new dimension of critical thinking and analytical skills, as we transitioned from the student to the subject, as college graduates do when entering the world. 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; he is in everything I do.
"There has been a voice in my head since 2003, because, Dr. Richard Tayson, I take you with me everywhere I am. I am forever grateful to you for providing the map I needed to navigate through my own thoughts. (You were right; they remain the scariest place!). Thank you for being my teacher, and for being my guide – still."
--Dara Courtney Evans
Assistant Professor, English Department
Co-Coordinator, English 122
Brookdale Community College
"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.
"The private tutorial with Richard Tayson was just what I needed this summer. I had been looking for a mentor to help me with a specific project and Richard guided me through it. We met one on one, at first, to talk about my goals and what I needed from him. Then, together we created a plan. I gave him twenty or more of my poems to read and critique. After Richard spent a good amount of time with them, we then met again as follow up. I received extensive comments on each poem, as well as an overview of my strengths. He also helped arrange the poems as a collective unit. Richard gave me valuable suggestions to nurture my poetic voice. I have a deep respect for his personal teaching style. Richard is intuitive, highly supportive and a delightful human being. I whole heartily recommend him as a private tutor."