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If the World Becomes So Bright

Poems by Keith Taylor


Made in Michigan Writers Series

Published: February 2009
ISBN: 9780814333914
Pages: 104 Size: 5 x 8
Published: February 2009
ISBN: 9780814335260

Taylor's poems are solid, seasoned and honest, unafraid to wander off-path or ask the same old questions. His lines feel like they rise from years of reading and thinking—of pressing an ear to poetry's heart and listening close.”


If the World Becomes So Bright is a powerful new collection from accomplished Michigan poet Keith Taylor. In an approachable, intimate, and contemplative voice, Taylor’s poems offer quiet observation of the landscapes the poet encounters. His poems reflect a Romantic sensibility and a modern inventiveness as he travels from Michigan to Cape Hatteras to the Irish countryside and moves in reflection from uncritical observation to self-questioning to exultations of gratitude and peace. The world—however small and immediate—becomes bright in this collection, as Taylor’s careful lines trace our connections with the mundane but important details of our lives, details found in the natural environment, with family members, and in our daily habits.

If the World Becomes So Bright is filled with the fauna and flora of Michigan wilderness, even when that wilderness is no farther away than the backyard. Taylor explores picturesque settings like Isle Royale in the Upper Peninsula, the waters of Lake Michigan, and his home in Ann Arbor, as well as settings that are a world away, all with a reverent and careful eye. He also trains the same studied observation on his inner world as he wrestles with the meanings of everyday occurrences, like visiting a deserted churchyard, following the migrations of birds through his yard, and watching his daughter grow up. Taylor’s voice throughout is insightful and curious, always thankful, and sometimes self-deprecating, sharing lessons while reflecting on all that is left to learn.

Readers will recognize in If the World Becomes So Bright not only a real and familiar speaker but also universal themes of insecurity, deliberation, and discovery. General readers of poetry, as well as fans of Taylor’s other work, will enjoy If the World Becomes So Bright.

Keith Taylor is the author of numerous books, including Guilty at the Rapture and a co-translation of Battered Guitars: The Poetry and Prose of Kostas Karyotakis. He is coordinator of undergraduate creative writing at the University of Michigan and director of the Bear River Writers Conference.

Sitting down with these poems is like being snowed in up north, glad to have enough wood for the wood stove, glad to be hanging out with this voice, one who tells a story, records a meaningful moment, notes a poignant or rueful anecdote all with authentic lyricism and complexity of tone."

– Jack Ridl

Sometimes-all too rarely-one enters a book of poems and trusts, at once, the wisdom and the tact that govern it. Keith Taylor's is such a book. The volume of Livy, the child in her playpen, the gun-yes, even the gun-in the teenager's mouth become a kind of blessing in these poems, insisting that the world is here, is real, is lit with its own fleetingness, is far larger than we are. I keep hoping if I linger in these pages long enough, some portion of the wonderful attentiveness to be found here will rub off on me."

– Linda Gregerson

Many of the poems in this beautiful collection deal with loss, aging, the temporary nature of life as we know it. The rest of the book contains poems that stun us here and now. These are poems that settle deeply into our lives and brains, into the core of our being. If the World Becomes So Bright is a book of quiet epiphanies rising up in the backyard, in the crows outside, against the spruce trees, at the campsite."

– Gently Read Literature

Taylor's poems are solid, seasoned and honest, unafraid to wander off-path or ask the same old questions. His lines feel like they rise from years of reading and thinking-of pressing an ear to poetry's heart and listening closely.


Here is the man at home in the world: husband, father, naturalist-monkish, bookish, freighted with desire, wary of end times, wondrous at the neighborhood apocalypses. Here is Keith Taylor-one of our best-at his very best. Bravo! Bravo, Maestro!"

– Thomas Lynch

Keith Taylor's are the poems of a cultured man confronting and celebrating the facts of the mortal world. In this book full of birds, the water and woods of the Great Lakes, the plains of western Canada, and the poet's intellectual and ancestral homelands of Greece and County Clare, children grow, a marriage ripens, friends provide companionship and consolation, work abides, and books are the loam of the imagination."

– John Repp, Pleiades