In these fifty-five poems that compose Late Leisure, Eleanor Ross Taylor shares dramatic, symbolic, intensely personal outpourings of her evolving consciousness—“myself capriciously ongoing”—as poet, woman, and elder. Though she has written throughout her life, it is now, in later years, that she blooms fullest, free of wifely and motherly occupations that nonetheless nurtured her artistry.
Taylor’s is a distinctly southern voice, audible in references to gardens and social ties and in folksy turns of phrase. But she wears a tremendously wide range of attitudes— confidence, independence, amazement, sarcasm, revery, faith—a fascinating, reassuring testimony to vitality. Many of her poems in Late Leisurehave to do with discerning, deciphering, discovering—and conversely with being lost or captive, and disappearing from the sight or earshot of others. For Taylor, these actions describe the mysteries of knowing her past and present selves and of plying the creative process.
Suffusing the collection is the poet’s penchant for solitude. Willfully, richly alone, Taylor paves her quiet way with brio: “Always reclusive, / I’m constructing my own brierpatch. . . . / ‘The blackberry, permitted its own way, / is an unmanageable plant.’ Here’s a / variety called Taylor: ‘Season late, / bush vigorous, hardy . . . free from rust.’ / That’s it. Don’t let my brierpatch rust.”
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