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 to soul to American punk rock. He is heavily influenced by the visual arts, most notably in his classic “Slow Song for Mark Rothko,” in which he does with words what transcendent painter Rothko did with paint and dye.
“John Taggart has long been a master of accumulating complexly layered patterns of sound and sense.” —Robert Creeley
“A fearsome intelligence wedded to a kind of craftsmanship that happens once or twice a generation.” —Stop Press
“In the lovely sonnet ‘Orange Berries Dark Green Leaves,’ Taggart seems to look at nature himself, rather than through another artist’s eyes: ‘Darkened not completely dark let us walk in the darkened field/trees in the field outlined against that which is less dark.’ Is Music contains many such pieces, a wealth of sublime and quiet poems; they are unlike anything being written today, and like good music they stay in the mind.” —Antioch Review