Biography of Taylor Graham
Taylor Graham was born Judith Ann Taylor in Pasadena, CA in 1944; her mother was a public health nurse, her father a doctor. Her first love was her Morgan mare, Molly B.
After she was introduced to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at Wm. S. Hart high school in Newhall, poetry became her passion. She studied languages in college, got a masters in comparative literature at USC, was a Fulbright Scholar at Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat in Freiburg, Germany. She was a Woodrow Wilson scholar working for her doctorate when she met and married Hatch Graham, a forester and wildlife biologist; she had enrolled in his night class in wildlife management at San Jacinto Community College in Gilman Hot Springs. He couldn't understand how anyone could consistently get 100% on his exams.
Hatch was reassigned to the US Forest Service's Alaska Planning Team in 1972. Judy Taylor Graham gave up her academic career as the couple moved to Anchorage, AK.
It was here the Grahams got their German Shepherd puppy Kerry, which led to a long avocation of search and rescue dog training. With like-minded dog owners, they formed a canine search and rescue (SAR) unit called D.O.G.S. (Dogs Organized for Ground Search) , training in avalanche and lost person rescue. At this time, Judy Taylor Graham was also a stringer for Copley News Service, writing on Alaskan affairs.
Through Forest Service transfers to the Washington DC Headquarters, the San Francisco Regional Office, and the El Dorado National Forest in Placerville, CA, Grahams were members of Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Assn. (VSRDA) , DOGS-East (VA & MD) , WOOF (Wilderness Finders - CA) , and CARDA (CA Rescue Dog Assn) .
Judy Taylor Graham founded and edited a newsletter for Sheriffs and dog handlers under the auspices of the National Assn for Search and Rescue (NASAR) . The newsletter, SAR Dog ALERT, reported nationwide on canine SAR activities. She was editor for eleven years and received NASAR'S Service Award in 1988. With her husband, she became a staff writer for DogSports magazine for SAR. They both contributed to NASAR's Response magazine. In 1992 SAR Dog ALERT was nominated for national recognition by the Dog Writers' of America, and in 1993 she received NASAR's Honorary Angel of the High Lonesome award.
For much of this time, her poetry was on hold.
In 1991, she published 'Looking for Lost.' And the poetry has flowed ever since. About her book 'Casualties, ' Dr. Kenneth Hill, Professor of Psychology at St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, wrote:
'It occurred to me only after I began to read these poems how rarely the themes of search and rescue are expressed in poetry. While indeed there is much verse about poor sinners gone spiritually astray, Taylor Graham is the only poet I know of who writes about people who are quite literally lost. So, for example, there are poems here about children who follow their dogs too deeply into the forest, foolish cavers who can't find their way back to the surface, and senile men and women wandering aimlessly in their ‘personal fogs.’ As well, there are also poems about the other kinds of casualties we look for: drowned swimmers, fallen climbers, suicides, runaways, and victims of earthquake, avalanche, flood, and murder..... There is power in these poems. I recommend them to you highly.”
In 2005 her book 'The Downstairs Dance Floor' was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize by Texas Review Press.
Poems from her chapbooks are found on her website
She is included in the anthology 'California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present, ' edited by Gioia, Yost, & Hicks.
Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, recently commented on her poetry to a reporter for the Sacramento Bee. 'Graham has worked outside the official world of poetry, and she has never been given anything like the attention she deserves.... Although her independence has cost her external honors in the back-slapping, favor-trading world of Po-Biz, it has also given her the clarity and freedom to write as no one else can manage.'
For the past four years, Graham has been immersed in a project to portray one of the greatest humanitarians of the nineteenth century, Elihu Burritt, in poetry. The result is
'Walking with Elihu: poems on Elihu Burritt, the Learned Blacksmith.' Self-published through CreateSpace, an Amazon company, it is now available through Amazon.com/books.
Taylor Graham's Works:
Walking with Elihu, Hot Pepper Press (Placerville, CA) 2010
Among Neighbors, Rattlesnake Press (Pollock Pines, CA) 2007
The Downstairs Dance Floor, Texas Review Press (Huntsville, TX) 2006
Another Waking, Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry online (Milwaukee, WI) 2005
Under the Shuttle, Awake, Dancing Girl Press (Chicago, IL) 2005
Living with Myth, Rattlesnake Press (Fair Oaks, CA) 2004
Harmonics, Poet’s Corner Press (Stockton, CA) 2003
Lies of the Visible, Snark Publications (O’Fallon, IL) 2003
Still Life with Wood Smoke, Mt Aukum Press (Mt Aukum, CA) 2002
Greatest Hits 1973-2001, Pudding House Publications (Johnstown, OH) 2002
This Morning According to Dog, Hot Pepper Press (Somerset, CA) 2001
An Hour in the Cougar’s Grace, Pudding House Publications (Johnstown, OH) 2000
Next Exit, Cedar Hill Publications (Mena, AR) 1999
Casualties: search-and-rescue poems, Coal City Review (Lawrence, KS) 1995
A Year of 13 Moons, M.A.F. Press (Portlandville, NY) 1992
Taylor Graham Poems
Between a mossy outcrop and a bedrock mortar. I watch a neighbor’s wood-smoke rise toward the contrail
Hiking Old Dog To The Alpine Lake
She takes the lead with unaccustomed spryness, remembering this route through sagebrush, bitterbrush, mules-ears drying like so many summers
Unpacking Mother's Things
Her wedding picture’s with the recipes for meatloaf. Months before Mother died she saved this lock, but kept unmatching keys.
The Tooth Fairy
The tooth fairy in her necklace of teeth, and tooth earrings and a gown as shimmery as spit, takes them from underneath
Living With Wild
The day begins with a speckled fawn in the swale; and then, five swallows — one of them fledged from your hand.
The neighbors’ dogs bark-wag, furry wet smell against my hand at the latch. For another week they’re mine. The cats stay out of sight.
A pomp-and-circumstantial hesitation- glide across the cinder- block foundation we were digging right-angle linear into hillside;
To Fire The Forge
This whole town’s built on under-tunneled ground where coal pays wages. Here’s the collier’s door – it sinks so gently, you don’t hear a sound.
A Ship Goes Aground Off Nantucket
based on Elihu Burritt’s “A Child’s Question” 'Fifty-four Forty or Fight! ' It looks like war, United States against the Motherland.
Ten Hours At The Forge
Elihu Burritt’s journal, June 19,1838 And then, by lantern light you read 'Sixty lines Hebrew, thirty pages French, '
I stand with my back against an oak — actually two oaks that have wound their trunks together as if they’d been slow-dancing, her head on his shoulder,
Waking In The Middle Of The Night
you map the backside of the moon using blips just broken off from dreams, and hints and winks from the sly tipped face at its palest quarter.
Hollywood & Vine
How many light-years till a star’s shine reaches us in our earthly darkness? All the men-in-black have made their living by our blindness.
The anger comes out through the fingers, these threads forced through fabric, the needle’s prick.
A pomp-and-circumstantial hesitation-
glide across the cinder-
block foundation we were digging
right-angle linear into hillside;
moving without seeming
in sequent curves, until
without a royal glance behind,