March 10, 2023

John Taggart (USA) 1942

John Taggart (USA)


American poet John Taggart was born in Guthrie Center, Iowa in 1942. He graduated from Earlham College in Indiana, earning honors for his B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy.
     In 1966 he took an M.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Chicago, and in 1974 completed a Ph.D. in the Humanities Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Syracuse University.

    During this same period, he began publishing poetry with To Construct a Clock in 1971 and The Pyramid Is Pure Crystal in 1974. Several books quickly followed, including Dodeka (1979), Dehiscence (1983), Loop (1991), Standing Wave (1993), and Pastorelles (2004).     

   During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Taggart was the editor and publisher of Maps, a literary magazine, and in 1978, he edited an issue of Truck to the poet Theodore Enslin.

   Taggart's poetry, rooted in Objectivist poetics, has been highly influenced by the works of Louis Zukofsky and George Oppen, and has, in turn, influenced others such as Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Gil Ott.

   He has also published a book on the painting of Edward Hopper, Remaining in Light: Ant Meditations on a Painting by Edward Hopper (SUNY Press, 1993) and a book of essays on contemporary poetics, Songs of Degrees: Essays on Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (University of Alabama Press, 1994).

     For many years he was Professor of English and Director of the Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.


To Construct a Clock (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1971); Pyramid Canon (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1973); The Pyramid Is Pure Crystal (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1974); Prism and the Pine Twig (New Rochelle, New York: Elizabeth Press, 1977); Dodeka (Milwaukee: Membrane, 1979); Peace on Earth (New York: Turtle Island, 1981); Dehiscence (Milwaukee: Membrane, 1983); Loop (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1991); Prompted (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991); Standing Wave (Providence, Rhode Island: Lost Roads, 1993); When the Saints (Jersey City, New Jersey: Talisman House, 1999); Pastorelles (Chicago: Flood Editions, 2004); Crosses: Poems 1992-1998 (Stop Press, 2006); These Are Birds (Flood Editions, 2008); Is Music: Selected Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2010)


Hear John Taggart read from Pastorelles at this link:

For a large selection of audio readings by John Taggart, please click here:

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Wedding Photo

for Sandra and for Ben

They lean slight/incline toward one

the two of
them and only these
two before the rocks the water of a lake branches and finely serrated leaves of a tree over
rocks and water

a moment a hushed moment
when a noise world pauses when marching band drummers halt paraddiles
when the usual the usual discord/discourse pauses

these two who have made themselves susceptible to words onrush
and crayola/crystal spillage of words an
infection which must be
allowed to spread through the
veins allowed even encouraged to run through all the connected veins/arteries

a gamble

that infection can be brought to resistant

that there can be art for human purpose for health

these two bodies possessing
interiors from
which come calls each a call of one interior through an exterior/a body to another

which can come to clash/conflict the usual discourse of bickering confusion

lean/incline toward one another

their heads close but not touching space between them

flower in her hair
flowers on her dress his eyes closed shy smile on his face

a moment hushed moment
when these two who have made themselves susceptible by who are not/in this moment
and without words must trust that each somehow hears the other

but not "public promises of one's intentions to fulfill a private obligation"

through the infinite time of a moment the infinite space of a small space between
them that each somehow hears the

and without words it is a gamble this choosing

which is not theatrical which is not a pose

and without third parties directing from the wings

two before rocks and water

these two this

Reprinted from Golden Handcuffs Review, I, no. 7 (Summer/Fall 2006)
Copyright ©2006 by John Taggart

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