Eleanor Ross Taylor

of Falls Church, Virgina

Winner of the William Carlos Williams Award in 2010

Where Somebody Died


The self refuses to appear
     in this bare place.
It fears that mute chair
     and the still window.
The sunlight scares it.
There might rise up a sound.
The door doesn't like to move,
     and the crow out there
     hesitates; he knows
     a hole flown into by mistake
     would make a bite of him.
What was sits standstill in the chair,
     hangs, stunned, against the dry-eyed light.
Nobody in sight.
Inanimate things, still lifeless.
This room's so empty
     I doubt I'm standing here;
     there can't be room for me
     and total emptiness.
Only some far-off sounds persist.
The brute truck
     over the interstate.
The flames in the incinerator
     chewing his old vests.

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Lynn Emanuel on Eleanor Ross Taylor

Composed over a period of forty-eight years, Captive Voices is a collage of historical narrative, meditation, dramatic monologue, and autobiography. Eleanor Ross Taylor writes about the lives of American women the way William Carlos Williams wrote about Paterson. This book is extraordinary, difficult, and ravishing. It is a complex and unexpected convergence of the influences of modernism and a wholly original, native genius. Reading it one suddenly realizes that one is in the presence of an American classic.

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