May 12, 2022

Ulrich hosts poetry reading with Sam Taylor – The Sunflower

On Tuesday, October 19, the Ulrich Museum hosted a poetry reading by Sam Taylor. Taylor is the Director of Creative Writing and Associate Professor of Poetry at Wichita State. Taylor spoke on Tuesday about his latest collection of poems, The Book of Fools.

“The Book of Fools has a similar meaning to Nu Descending an Empire (one of his previous books).” Taylor said.

The difference between Nude Descending an Empire and The Book of Fools is that Fools is nicer. We have all lived or will know the death of a loved one. We hear the overtaking and the darkness not only with the death of Taylor’s mother, but also with a friend who shot himself and his father’s nervous breakdown.

The Book of Fools was published on October 14, 2021. Taylor wrote these poems focusing on the death of his mother, who passed away at the age of 22 and continuing her legacy.

One of the first poems in the book is The Age of Positive Thinking. In this poem, Taylor includes a painting by Pablo Picasso. This image was one of Picasso’s most depressing paintings. There is a dying woman in bed who is surrounded by her loved ones. A man holds her wrist because she is too weak to hold her hand. In this poem, he compares each of his family members to someone in the painting. The dying woman, her mother, and the man holding her hand, her grandfather.

In poetry, the author has the creative freedom to display the text as he sees fit. Taylor uses this to his advantage as he represents the underworld. There are poems in the book, like Return, where you have to turn the book over to read it. The return begins normally. The first column is long and continuous; however, once the reader reaches the second column, they must turn the book over because the text is upside down. Taylor does this to show the difference between worlds and how the underworld is completely upside down and different from normal life on Earth.

Taylor also represents the exit from the underworld by blurring its text. At the beginning of several poems, the text is very clear and almost difficult to read; However, as you get closer to the end of the poem, the text returns to its normal black color.

Plain text not only represents the underworld, but the difficult times in life. When you reach for the poems on Taylor’s nervous breakdown and other difficult times in life, the majority of the text is light. This is because the moments in life are difficult to see and understand.

At the end of Taylor’s reading, a question-and-answer session was offered. Many of his readers have been intrigued by the footnotes included in the majority of his poems.

“The footnotes were really like looking outside the frame of a classic poem,” Taylor said. “(Footnotes) is the idea that there is always more outside the box. Really, it’s about creating art.

Taylor wanted the reader to know that there are several points of view that can be interpreted from each of his poems. The poems do not have a single meaning, but a multiple one. The meaning is just how the reader can understand.

The Book of Fools and Nude Descending an Empire are both available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. For more information on upcoming events, visit the Ulrich Museum website or upcoming events on the Wichita State University website.

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