I am terrible at hellos. Even with my friends, I sometimes hesitate to say hi out loud. It wouldn’t even be that embarrassing if they didn’t hear me, but I still usually give this kind of weird big-eyed, teeth-gritting smile. I have a love-hate relationship with those ridiculous conversations, analyzing these interactions with acquaintances, thinking, “I said hi, but do they even remember me? Now I seem creepy” or “I just should’ve said hi, now I seem rude, but we, like, barely made eye contact.” I often think that texting or messaging exacerbates these pretty stupid concerns.

Culling images and fragments from the world around her, Tess Taylor ’99 exemplifies how a poet can also be a historian, archaeologist, naturalist, teacher, student and witness. Whether she is describing her first post-college apartment in Brooklyn, her drives from northern to southern California or the bird sanctuary at Amherst, her thoughtful observations give a complex and distinct shape to a place’s unspoken stories.

The Root of a Poem
“Poetry is essentially a long conversation,” Taylor said.

A 50-lb, 39x80-inch, navy blue rectangle is currently giving shape to the bulky conversations about rape that have been spreading across college campuses in recent years. It feels too obvious and literal to discuss “Carry that Weight/Mattress Performance” in terms of dimensions, gravity or language associated with bedding. It feels simplistic to simply celebrate the work in an op-ed, but its importance is tangible in the sense that it is actually tangible.