Is Music: New and Selected Poems
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“John Taggart’s poetry is not like music, it is music.”—George Oppen
Is Music—a major retrospective of an American original—gathers the best poems from John Taggart’s fourteen volumes, ranging from early objectivist experiments and jazz-influenced improvisational pieces to longer breathtaking compositions regarded as underground masterpieces. There is a prayerful quality to Taggart’s poetry, rooted in music—from medieval Christian traditions and soul to American punk rock. He is also heavily influenced by the visual arts, most notably in his classic “Slow Song for Mark Rothko,” in which he did with words what Rothko did with paint and dye.
To breathe and stretch one’s arms again
to breathe through the mouth to breathe to
breathe through the mouth to utter in
the most quiet way not to whisper not to whisper
to breathe through the mouth in the most quiet way to
breathe to sing to breathe to sing to breathe
to sing the most quiet way.
To sing to light the most quiet light in darkness
singing light in darkness.
To sing as the host sings in his house.
John Taggart is the author of fourteen books of poetry and two books of criticism. He was, for many years, a professor of English and director of the Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Shippensburg University. He lives near Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.
could be other steps before that ever felt a gentle touch then a kiss there could be many and other steps always possible to imagine many and other steps there could be so many steps before that step. Sainte-Chapelle in memory of Olivier Messiaen Specifically the rose window specifically the center center of the rose left to right bottom to top left to right the receiver kneeling with tightly closed eyes kneeling before orange claws of the sender candlestick elaborate nail there are
at the funeral of Mahalia. Thomas Dorsey met Mahalia met her for the first time in 1928 it was in 1928 that Georgia Tom moaned with Ma Rainey he moaned with Ma Rainey he moaned and he groaned with Ma Rainey he met Mahalia and he taught her how to moan “you teach them how to say their words in a moanful way” to say their words how to say his words Mahalia was a big fine woman Mahalia was denuded Dorsey knew the heavier the voice the better the singer Dorsey knew as any teacher knows the
one line to line connection of one line to line with one line to line one line to line with one line to line at a time line to line connection of line to line with line to line. 2 Line to line with line to line connection of line to line one line to line at a time with one line to line line to line with one line to line connection of one line to line with one line to line I connect one line to line with one line to line at a time connection of one within one line to line a room within
a seduction a come a little closer vampire/vampirella message the message is waiting’s over is an I and a Thou or Thee may be dancers unmasked and face to face that it is permitted that an I and a Thou or Thee may be in one another’s eyes may share “the privilege” two having nothing to prove aren’t in confrontation are in conversation. This is paradise to be in to be in the place where conversation takes place could be a garden could be within a wall could be two who are face to
sursum to lead bones to be capable of dance-with-song motion to go dancing and singing with bones with no ghost tones to wait no longer to go dancing. Carol heart’s ease ring of flower’s thought. To lift up bones to go dancing as a dancing chorus as the morning stars to permutations of cowbells and tubular bells of gongs and tam-tams. To lift to lift up to lift without effort to lift the head to sing sursum past the doorkeeper to sing virga sursum to lead bones in motion