Join us online for a night of poetry cultivating our collective urge to grow, tend, and heal, and to help launch Tess Taylor’s poetry anthology Leaning toward Light: Poems for Gardens & the Hands That Tend Them. Tess Taylor will introduce several poets featured in the antholgy (including Ellen Bass, David Baker & Ashley Jones) to read and have a conversation with her about the collection. We invites gardeners, caretakers, poets, and readers alike to a magical night on Zoom to indulge in poetry readings to celebrate this beautiful collaboration of some of the most imaginative contemporary poets of our time celebrating the life giving diversity of gardens.
About the book:
Much like reading a good poem, caring for plants brings comfort, solace, and joy to many. In this new poetry anthology, Leaning toward Light, acclaimed poet and avid gardener Tess Taylor brings together a diverse range of contemporary voices to offer poems that celebrate that joyful connection to the natural world. Several of the most well-known contemporary writers, as well as some of poetry’s exciting rising stars, contribute to this collection including Ross Gay, Jericho Brown, Mark Doty, Jane Hirshfield, Ada Limón, Danusha Laméris, Naomi Shihab Nye, Garrett Hongo, Ellen Bass, and James Crews. With a foreword by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of the New York Times bestseller World of Wonders—it includes reflective pauses and sometimes whimsical recipes by the poets themselves.
“This collection brings together many of my favorite writers to celebrate the limitless offerings of nature; wandering through its pages feels like taking a long stroll through a beautiful garden.”
— Alice Waters, chef, author, food activist, and founder of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard Project
“Among the many things to love about this beautiful anthology is that it reminds us that gardening is a gathering practice, a practice of gathering, and the more we do it together—with collaborators human, critterly, fungal, floral, meteorological, cosmic, unborn, living, living now as soil, etc.—the better, by which I mean the more lovingly, the more belovingly, the more truly, we do it.”
— Ross Gay, author of Inciting Joy and The Book of Delights
“It’s thrilling to see in these pages a reflection of the world I want to live in.”
— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of the New York Times bestseller World of Wonders, from the foreword
Tess Taylor, an avid gardener, is the author of five acclaimed collections of poetry including Work & Days, which was named one of the 10 best books of poetry of 2016 by the New York Times. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Tin House, The Times Literary Supplement, CNN, and the New York Times. She has also served as on-air poetry reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered for over a decade. Taylor is local to the Bay Area where she tends to fruit trees and backyard chickens.
David Baker is a poet, educator, editor, and literary critic. He was born in 1954 in Bangor, Maine, grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri, and since 1983 has lived in central Ohio. He received his B.S.E. and M.A. degrees in English from the University of Central Missouri and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Utah, where he also served from 1980-83 as Editor and Poetry Editor of Quarterly West. Since 1984 Baker has taught at Denison University, in Granville, Ohio, where he is currently a teaching Emeritus Professor of English. Baker also serves frequently on the faculty of the MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College and at writers’ workshops around the country. After serving as Poetry Editor of The Kenyon Review for more than twenty-five years, he currently curates the annual “Nature’s Nature” feature for the magazine. He is the author or editor of nineteen books, including thirteen books of poetry, most recently Whale Fall (2022, W. W. Norton), Swift: New and Selected Poems (2019, W. W. Norton), Scavenger Loop (2015, W. W. Norton) and Never-Ending Birds (2009, W. W. Norton), which was awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize in 2011, and six books of prose, most recently Seek After: On Seven Modern Lyric Poets (2018, SFASU). His individual poems and essays have appeared in the country’s finest journals, including American Poetry Review, Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New Criterion, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, Raritan, The Southern Review, Tin House, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review. Among his awards are prizes and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Mellon Foundation, Poetry Society of America, the Pushcart Foundation, Utah Arts Council, Society of Midland Authors, and Ohioana Library Association.
Poet and educator Ellen Bass is a Chancellor Emerita of the Academy of American Poets. Her most recent book of poetry, Indigo, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2020. Previous books include Like a Beggar, The Human Line, and Mules of Love. Bass was co-editor with Florence Howe of the first major anthology of women’s poetry, No More Masks! has also written works of nonfiction, including, with Laura Davis, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into twelve languages. Among her awards are Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, four Pushcart Prizes and the Lambda Literary Award. She teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University and lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Sophie Cabot Black’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Bomb, The New Yorker, Granta, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Poetry, and Tin House, among other journals. Her work has also appeared in various anthologies, among them Best American Poetry, Fatherhood, Doggerel, and Poems About Horses, anthologies from the Everyman’s Library Series. Her three books from Graywolf Press are The Misunderstanding of Nature, which received the Norma Farber Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, The Descent, which earned the Connecticut Book Award and was nominated for the 2005 Colorado Book Award, and The Exchange, of which Publisher’s Weekly said: “Black weaves sheer elegance and devastating knowing” (starred review). She has been awarded several fellowships, including at the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, and the Radcliffe Institute, and appears at national literary festivals such as the Los Angeles Times Book Festival and the Dodge Poetry Festival. Black has taught at the New School, Rutgers, and Columbia University, and continues to teach at the 92nd St Y and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She holds degrees from Marlboro College and Columbia University.
Haleh Liza Gafori is a translator, vocalist, poet, and composer born in NYC of Persian descent. Her acclaimed book, Gold (New York Review Books Classics/Penguin Random House, 2022), features her translations of poems by Rumi, the 13th century sage and mystic. Supported by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, Gafori has created a cross-media performance piece based on the book, weaving translations, original text, and musical compositions sung in Persian and English. Gafori’s work has been published by Columbia University Press, Harvard Review, Literary Hub, Hyperallergic, The Marginalian, and elsewhere. She has presented lectures, workshops, and performance pieces at universities and festivals across the country and abroad, including Stanford University, Swarthmore College, Lincoln Center, the New York Public Library, and Bradford Literary Fest.
Ashley M. Jones is Poet Laureate of the state of Alabama (2022-2026). She received an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University (FIU), where she was a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellow. She served as Official Poet for the City of Sunrise, Florida’s Little Free Libraries Initiative from 2013-2015, and her work was recognized in the 2014 Poets and Writers Maureen Egen Writer’s Exchange Contest and the 2015 Academy of American Poets Contest at FIU. She was also a finalist in the 2015 Hub City Press New Southern Voices Contest, the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Contest, and the National Poetry Series. Jones has been featured on news outlets including Good Morning America, ABC News, and the BBC. Her poems and essays appear or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including CNN, the Academy of American Poets, POETRY, Tupelo Quarterly, Prelude, Steel Toe Review, Fjords Review, Quiet Lunch, Poets Respond to Race Anthology, Night Owl, The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, pluck!, Valley Voices: New York School Edition, Fjords Review: Black American Edition, PMSPoemMemoirStory (where her work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016), Kinfolks Quarterly, Tough Times in America Anthology, and Lucid Moose Press’ Like a Girl: Perspectives on Femininity Anthology. She received a 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and a 2015 B-Metro Magazine Fusion Award. She was an editor of PANK Magazine. Her debut poetry collection, Magic City Gospel, was published by Hub City Press in January 2017, and it won the silver medal in poetry in the 2017 Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her second book, dark // thing, won the 2018 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry from Pleiades Press. Her third collection, REPARATIONS NOW! was published Fall 2021 from Hub City Press. She won the 2018 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize from Backbone Press, and she is the 2019 winner of the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Jones is a recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and a 2020 Alabama Author award from the Alabama Library Association. She was a finalist for the Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2020, and her collection, REPARATIONS NOW! was on the longlist for the 2022 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. She currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where she is Associate Director of the University Honors Program at UAB, founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival, board member of the Alabama Writers Cooperative and the Alabama Writers Forum, and co-director of PEN Birmingham. Jones also teaches in the Converse University Low Residency MFA Program. In 2021, Jones served as a guest editor for Poetry Magazine. In 2022, she received a Poet Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets.
Danusha Laméris, a poet and essayist, was raised in Northern California, born to a Dutch father and Barbadian mother. Her first book, The Moons of August (2014), was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award. Some of her work has been published in: The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, Orion, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner. Her second book, Bonfire Opera, (University of Pittsburgh Press, Pitt Poetry Series), was a finalist for the 2021 Paterson Poetry Award and recipient of the Northern California Book Award in Poetry. She was the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County, California, and is currently on the faculty of Pacific University’s low residency MFA program. Her third book, Blade by Blade, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press.
Brynn Saito (she/her), MA, MFA, is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Under a Future Sky (Red Hen Press, 2023). A 2023 California Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow, Brynn is the winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. Brynn also co-authored with Traci Brimhall the poetry chapbook, Bright Power, Dark Peace (Diode Editions, 2016). She teaches in the Creative Writing program at California State University, Fresno, located on the traditional lands of the Yokuts and Mono peoples. Brynn is coediting with Brandon Shimoda an anthology of poetry written by descendants of the Japanese American/Nikkei incarceration, forthcoming in 2025 from Haymarket Books.