The Forage House
by Tess Taylor '99
"Every so often there is a book of poetry that reminds us how well verse can speak history. The Forage House by Tess Taylor is one of those time capsules. … This book’s great beauty is its use of quotation. Taylor quotes diaries, wills, and newspaper articles, and evokes the silence of those not allowed to speak." - Oxford American
- Learn more about the author
- Listen to the conversation between Tess Taylor '99 and Erica Ehrenberg '00, poet and teacher.
- Read her poem Virginia Pars
- Read a review
- Explore The Common's feature of The Forage House with Diana Babineau '14.
- Listen to Tess Taylor '99 read four of her poems.
In The Forage House, the speaker unravels a rich and troubling history. Some of her ancestors were the Randolph Jeffersons, one of Virginia's most prominent slaveholding families. Some were New England missionaries. Some were dirt-poor Appalachians. And one was the brilliant, controversial Thomas Jefferson.
Shuttling between legend and story, history and family tale, these poems visit cluttered attics, torn wills, and marked and unmarked graves. Working alongside historians and archaeologists, Taylor unearths buttons, pipes, and the accidental rubble of a busy state building its new freeway. Based in years of research and travel, these poems form a kind of lyric journalism, collaged from tantalizing fragments.