John Taylor


A Xenos-Chelsea Editions collaboration


ISBN 10: 1-879378-84-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-879378-84-1
86 pages, $10


Author Biography | Read Selection

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JOHN TAYLOR was born in Des Moines in 1952 and has lived in France since 1977. He has written seven books of stories, short prose and poetry, notably The Apocalypse Tapestries (Xenos Books, 2004), Now the Summer Came to Pass (Xenos Books, 2012), both books available as e-books, and If Night Is Falling (Bitter Oleander Press, 2012). He has also published the three-volume Paths to Contemporary French Literature (2007), Into the Heart of European Poetry (2010) and A Little Tour of European Poetry (2014) — all five books published by Transaction Press. For Chelsea Editions, he has translated three large collections of poetry and prose from French: Philippe Jaccottet, And, Nonetheless (2011); Pierre-Albert Jourdan, The Straw Sandals (2011); and Louis Calaferte, The Violet Blood of the Amethyst (2013). From Italian he has translated Lorenzo Calogero, An Orchid Shining in the Hand: Selected Poems 1932-1960 (Chelsea, 2015); and Alfredo de Palchi, Nihil (Xenos-Chelsea, 2017).

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"The Dark Brightness represents a turn in John Taylor's writing. Known for his short prose evoking his childhood in Des Moines and his adult life in France, where he has long lived, Taylor is now writing short, meditative, almost 'pre-Socratic' poems arranged into sequences and focused on existential issues: a man's relationship to language (and foreign language), to nature, to his personal past, and to his future death.

"At the heart of this volume, with these various themes, is an attempt to reproduce essential moments when something — a phenomenon in the outer world, or a thought, an emotion, a sensation — comes into being, emerges into visibility, into awareness, something that was previously within a darkness, or was perhaps itself the darkness. His collaborative projects with four artist-friends, samples of whose work are included here, has been a stimulating factor in this poetic quest..." ~ Jeremy Alden

Link to review by Melania Panico about the Italian translation of The Dark Brightness

Link to review in Italian by Piero Flecchia in Il giornalaccio

Link to review in Italian by Giacomo Cerrai in his blog "Imperfetta llissa"

Link to review by Giorgio Linguaglossa

Link to review by Claudia Zironi in the May issue of the review Versante ripido



"Thicket" by Dimitris Souliotis
Illustration from the book

Selections from


where streams meet
you stand on the narrow bank

behind you is the endless wood

sometimes you wish
for the silence of those trees

wish to walk away
into the white shadows


just a word

and fronts of houses loom again
a number you can make out
in the dim light

you recall a face

that cannot come back

though it is coming
through the doorway
of the vanished house

in your reverie
this face is darker than dusk
so you follow it

as you would the night
as you would the light




the visible dead
the discarded

with a bit of warmth
from this unexpected sunlight

with a bit of comfort
as they are half-buried
in sludge
that must be soothing

but is there something like blood
running through veins

in these raindrops
these mirror-like puddles


is there blood
you shout again
into the mist
into the dense moist silence
that so often smothers you

nothing seems to move
inside all that remains here
or against what they were
what they are
what is

then you notice stirrings
on stagnant water

already a sprout
another one
from a patch of soil

and a heron flies across
the absent lake
the absent life

in front of you
within you


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