My second poetry collection, Cassandra Complex, is published by Shoestring Press in Nottingham, July 2018. It is a collection of poems, found poems, found translations, mis-translations, prophecies, pseudo-prophecies, apocalyptic visions and moments of retroactive clairvoyance.
Cassandra Complex is available from Shoestring Press’s website, here.
Cassandra Complex was shortlisted for the Arnold Bennett Prize 2019.
“Stunning … structured in four movements which build together to form a symphony – a captivating experience” (Ruth Hunt in The Morning Star).
“Both serious and ironic … a … stimulating and thoughtful collection” (Terry Potter in The Letter Press Project).
“Taylor’s Cassandra Complex serves as a meditation on the long-standing power of prophecy in shaping our perceptions …. [The] collection proves time sets out to make fools of us of all, holding us to account for the words we once said” (Paul Taylor-McCartney, Everybody’s Reviewing).
“This is a truly terrific book. Everyone should read it … It’s fantastically inventive” (David Morley).
“Some poems are so direct and relatable they are almost unbearable to read … These are … poems that warrant re-reading. It is a Pandora’s Box of disasters and delights, and is worth opening up” (Kevan Manwaring, The Bardic Academic).
“This is a marvellous and serious collection of poems … a book which challenges and delights by turns … This is a wise book we should all aspire to read and consider” (Bert Flitcroft, Arnold Bennett Society Newsletter).
“An interesting and powerful book; so many wonderful ideas … a book that is unashamed of knowing things and of pursuing ideas” (Jonathan Davidson).
“An extraordinary book …. I am just bowled over by the range of … references and influences …. As if [it has] … blown open the whole idea of what poetry can and should be about” (Maggie Butt).
“History, politics, science, classical music, time, memory and longing interweave through the pages of this striking collection. Taylor’s eclecticism and intellectualism are well to the fore, without ever seeming like show-offery” (Neil Fulwood).
” … a wild blend of the now with ruminations on the applicability of past selves …. There is a surprising wisdom running through [the collection] … poems that matter” (Kelli Allen).
My first poetry collection, Musicolepsy, was published by Shoestring Press in Nottingham, April 2013.
You can order Musicolepsy from Shoestring Press’s website, here.
” … a sophisticated and urbane volume which, broadly speaking, is built upon the poet’s twin fascinations with astronomy and music …. Taylor is a subtle, intelligent and richly allusive poet …. Taylor can evoke and articulate quite brilliantly the nature of particular musical works” (Glyn Pursglove, in Acumen Magazine).
“Jonathan Taylor’s first poetry collection orbits the two planets of astronomy and classical music …. Monumental pieces of music are intelligently dissected to get at the heart of what makes them resonate so lastingly …. Taylor’s absorbing passion for his subjects and his gift for communicating the warp and weft of the universe – and the way music entwines itself round your brain – make it rewarding” (Robin Lewis, in Leftlion Magazine).
“An impressive and most engaging collection of poems …. There is very effective subtleness and control to his work” (Peter Thabit Jones, in The Seventh Quarry Magazine).
“This bristles with erudition … a wealth of inventiveness …. I … enjoyed tussling with the volume as a whole, especially the risky ambition of its enterprise” (Noel Williams, in Orbis Magazine).
“Science, particularly astronomy, is … expanding our vision and providing images for Taylor to bend adroitly …. Taylor [uses] … adroit wit and observation …. Taylor provides us with insights that we know but always need to know anew” (Kalyna Review).
“A confident first collection … engaging, ambitious poems” (Lawrence Sail, in The Warwick Review).
“Technically slick … subjects are handled with care, sensitivity, intelligence and a clear understanding of rhythm and the technical aspects of poetry” (Emma Lee).
“Wonderful poetry with a cosmological and musical theme. Art with a heart” (Matt Merritt).
Below are some sample poems from Cassandra Complex and Musicolepsy:
This year all the mirrors have shattered
and the mansion is a labyrinth of reflections,
corridors shards, rooms fragments, faces cubist.
Passageways lead to themselves. Kitchens
teem with the poor chewing cutlery.
In living rooms pianos have been detuned.
The library’s shelves are full of hollow books
that double as ash-trays. Few speak aloud
though refined voices murmur through walls,
locked doors. You can hear the clink of bone
china, shuffling papers, a gavel. In the cellar
there is sobbing, the clanking of chains,
the smell of burning. No-one ventures down
to see what’s there. Somewhere in the maze
is a lost self holding a loved one’s hand
but you’ll never find your way back again.
On coffee tables are newspapers full of lies
about an outside world clamouring to get in –
as if anyone would want to come here,
as if anything exists beyond the front door.
(Originally published on I Am Not A Silent Poet).
Oedipus and Tiresias
there will always be a Tiresias
sitting tight-lipped in the corner
of chamber, pub or courtroom,
not saying what he is thinking,
his eyeballs an opaque mirror
on plague, famine, massacre,
a city of wailing and ashes.
you can interrogate him,
beat him, even arrest him
for silence under oath,
or for your father’s murder
(as you have many others)
but still you see what he sees
within and cannot unsee it
despite dossiers, ministers,
secret police and newspapers.
you can kill him as your father
or fuck him as your mother
or both. It hardly matters
for there’ll always be others
somewhere in the crowd
blindly knowing what you
have done in the past
and will continue to do.
Or maybe one day,
you’ll even take his place,
donning sackcloth and ashes,
haunting foreign cities,
eye sockets bleeding truth,
leaving a trail like history.
(Originally published on I Am Not A Silent Poet).
Black Hole in B-Flat
“Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found, for the first time, sound waves from a supermassive black hole ….” (N.A.S.A., September 9th, 2003)
For 2.5 billion years you’ve groaned,
B-flat 57 octaves below middle-C.
For 2.5 billion years you’ve moaned
for no one, because no one
could hear you from Perseus Cluster,
250 million light years away,
your galactic ground-bass a million billion
times lower than human hearing,
dog hearing, even Keplerian hearing,
who would have been hard pushed
to retain an equal temperament
in the face of such monotony –
more monkish medieval drone
than planetary polyphony,
as if Palestrina never happened,
and Bach dozed off at the organ
shortly after the Big Bang,
his elbow resting on a pedal point
over which he dreamt his flickering fugues,
short-lived as novas,
short-lived as life,
short-lived as anything but you,
sucked back down
into your B-flat abyss.
For My Father
… but Purcell’s Dido’s lament –
When I am laid in earth,
May my wrongs create
No trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate,
– never seems to finish,
and the five-bar basso ostinato,
recurs again and again,
closing like a trap on the Carthage Queen,
remembering what she wants forgotten,
the 3/2 rhythm persisting,
long after the record has finished,
chaconning my footsteps
towards the C.D. player
and the Eject button,
which can’t eject the ostinato
from my head, and can’t stop me
remembering the Queen’s fate
encased within it –
the slit wrists, the betrayal,
all that Aeneid balls-up –
And I know what the circling ostinato tells me:
that, despite those seven last words,
her fate is to be remembered for her fate,
to be immortalised for nothing else;
and I know too that grief,
the ground-bass to all our memories,
all too often memorialises by mistake
the fate, the last illness, the how,
and not the who or what.