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Becoming Local: Keith Taylor’s “The Ancient Murrelet”

by Ann Marie Thornburg

In “Chasing The Ancient Murrelet Taylor writes of a bird’s death “in a place / it doesn’t belong, where it can’t find / the right food or a mate, but where I find it, following / clear directions on the internet.” As birdwatcher and poet, Taylor seeks out his subjects, and often finds them on margins, which is not to say that he looks in these places for self-aggrandizing recoveries. Subjects are everywhere, struggling and thriving, and good poets are receptive to accidental encounters and simultaneously, continue seeking. The entire book, laced through with nimble drawings by Melanie Boyle, takes us through landscapes and across borders familiar to Taylor’s readers, but continually, book after book, wrought anew: the commingling of the wild, the natural, and the domestic worlds; strange, shimmering encounters that are not stripped of their secrets. These brief poems let the light in. They know when their maps-of-language have taken us to openings, windows.