AMY MADDEN TAYLOR’S quiet confessional style, full of acutely realized images of life, freezes individual moments like photographs.
This book is the dissection of a compelling but uncomfortable relationship. We are invited to examine closely the characters of her protagonists, and I feel the urge to reach out and rescue the woman from her compulsive attraction to this charismatic, capricious and selfish man who will never be hers on the same terms that she is his. She is possessed by him in a way that she can never possess him and we have to watch, almost peering through our fingers as this sensitive young woman goes through all the torments of love, and doubt, and loss that will be familiar to many of us, but which are here expressed with a clear and breathless eloquence few of us can hope to equal.
Amy Madden Taylor’s writing avoids all of the common pitfalls of poetry. There is no pretention and no artifice. The feel is organic, immediate and unflinching. For every Amy Madden Taylor there are dozens of other would-be poets trying to ride the tail of some perceived literary trend to success, but this writer maintains her unique voice with integrity throughout. This book will make you laugh, and cry, and gasp, and sigh along with the events and leave a lasting impression of a consuming passion, the “two-ness of one, the one-ness of two” played out against the uncompromising backdrop of life-on-the-edge in New York.
Whenever I read anything by Amy Madden Taylor I am drawn into a sense of stillness to fully appreciate all I am reading. I need to take a deep breath and focus my mind, as if for meditation. The words need to be savoured, the visions fully realized to appreciate the delicacy and light modern grace of this masterful poetic narrative.
and at the Strand Bookstore, New York , (Broadway at 12th Street), with availability for mail order at Strandbooks.com Strandbooks.com has just restocked. Get your copy now!
Scars Amy Madden Taylor 2015 Belpid Books
Scars – Amazon
“Described as ‘nostalgic, dark and enchanting’, Scars is a unique narrative-in-verse from an accomplished fiction and essay writer. It is the story of a year in the life of a fictional family in the 1960’s told through a series of poems ‘written’ by the 15-year-old poet-daughter, Hope. Madden’s themes of loss, betrayal, and family role reversals are ingrained in the text; we begin to recognize the voice of each of the family members, as the narrator relates the events of a dark year in their lives. The scars are literal, figurative and emotional. They form a sort of bond of intimacy which binds these characters beneath family tragedy and dysfunction. Deceptively simple in presentation, Scars is clever, unpretentious and moving.”
I’ve been a fan of Amy Madden Taylor’s writing for almost three years. The first time I read her blog I was blown away. It can be found at Writerless – My So Called Blog)
Her keen sense of observation and the economy of her vision slices through the layers of bullshit with which we pad-out our world. Her reality has sharp corners and hard knocks, but it also has a deep sense of patience, compassion and humanity.
I moved on from her blog and read her “Young Adult” novel “Losing My Accent” ( Losing My Accent -Amazon )
Amy Madden Taylor is seriously one of the best writers, living or dead, that I have read in my entire life. She writes how I would like to write, but I will never have that level of skill.
Turning to her new book “Scars”.
The reader gets a fascinating insight into what it was like to be growing up in a dysfunctional family in the 1960s.
Hope, the protagonist writes her narrative as a series of poems minutely invoking intense evocative sketches from childhood. As the adult world washes over the adolescent siblings, each has their own story. I can’t give away too much, but I must urge you strongly to read this book.
It is an extraordinary accomplishment, I’ve never before seen a story told in such a unique way and there is so much there; little triggers which will set you laughing and crying and remembering how it was when everything was still a wonder in the world.
Don’t be put off by the description “poetic narrative”
These days people seem rather frightened by contemporary verse, but this is very far from the “Emperor’s New Clothes”, self-indulgent vanities of the trust-fund urbanite seeking street cred validation. This book is pared to the essence. It hits hard and caresses just as earnestly. You can take what you want from it. It’s like a slide show, some are portraits and some are landscapes, but all are studded with memories; words and phrases you will remember long after you have finished the book.
Please buy this. It is available as a limited paperback edition or else as a Kindle Book from all the usual sources. I would be fascinated to see reviews from other people. I know my take will be different to how others view it.
Amy Madden is a professional musician, in the New York Blues Hall of Fame and is a regular on the Rock & Blues circuit in that city where she plays solo shows and as bass guitarist for a number of bands, notably with long time Johnny Winter collaborator Jon Paris; R&R Hall of Famer, ex- Blackheart Ricky Byrd, and backing the extraordinary and amazing Alan Merrill, formerly of Vodka Collins, Arrows, Runner, Meat Loaf and Derringer, famous for having been the writer and original artist of the monster hit song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”
Sitting backwards on the train
Where we were grew smaller in the landscape
All that we have known dwindles in the dusk
You glimpsed a beauty on a station
where we slowed, but did not stop
You caught her eye and fell in love
As we drew away again, she waved.
She wanted you, but you were gone
And we sat in silence with
The senseless scent of endings
And our starving hearts
I glimpsed your face
In that moment it betrayed you
And split that mask you wear for the world.
As you blanched with sickness
As you birthed your agony
From the pit of fear within you
I stared, watching you unable
To hold on any more
As your inner joy crumbled
As your sweet dream shattered
In a flurry of snowflake words
Here and gone in a moment
Both sweet and bitter
As you had to look glad
As you had to pretend
That you were happy when he told you
And his arm around her shoulder
Younger than his daughter
Your courage and his folly
Cruel comedy of tragedy
He did not see what I saw
You did not see that I saw
As your jawline tightened
As your knuckles whitened
That it mattered it was not you
That he loved.
LAC Hunter 2014
Where are my keys?
Which keys? My keys!
On the wall in the office
Which office? Which wall?
Maybe I’ll walk out
Today or tomorrow
Maybe I’ll never walk out anymore
All that I wanted cannot be attained now.
Tomorrow is merely another today.
Maggie, they tell me, phoned up after breakfast
Nice girl, but I cannot remember her name.
They’ve stolen my keys!
Which keys? My keys!
They’ve stolen my mirror, my brush and my comb
Now I have no face, no place and no history
I cannot go back and I cannot go home
Where are my keys?
Which keys? My keys!
I cannot unlock this disease at all
Now that I have been abducted by aliens
I smile at the soup going round in my bowl
Unconditional, despite the blows,
I am but your dog, demanding of your time
Not mute, but short lived,
I chain my neck to your hand
Dragging you into open spaces
Yet, as I look into your eyes,
I still feel small, not really touching your heart,
Not really making things right
You cannot give yourself to this
Novocaine girlfriend, my alien race
But retain this, this time will pass and
You will be alone once more.
Fond, but distant, you observe my
Tricks and follies
With the air of a remote
Yet I am
Unconditional, despite the blows
That familiar tight cold knot gripes and shifts
Twisting the aperture just wide enough to fall
Falling into the dark and unforgiving granite
Crashing and splitting open old scars
Like cruel mouths to laugh
As blood pours out onto the flags
No concession for age or wisdom
Or childish hopeful foolishness
Just yet another blow of many
The lesson still unlearned
Caught between your words
Your meaning bares its teeth
And grimaces triumphantly
“You’ll never get me
You’ll never get close enough to see
Or to feel the things you need
Here in these words
Or this mind
Blinded as you are by lust
And wanting convention”
Yet fascinated by this shadow-show,
I remain transfixed
And grasp its challenge undaunted
Like a fool on a dare
How the odds are stacked against me