Longlisted for the 2021 Miramichi Review Poetry Book of the Year

My fourth poetry collection, Strangers, was published by Biblioasis in April 2021. The poems explore lineages – familial and literary – and all the ways those we hold closest are both a part of us and, in some ways, forever beyond our reach. Written during a time when my two half-brothers died, my son was born, and my mother was diagnosed with dementia, it’s also about early middle age: a time when the great loves of our lives begin arriving and departing simultaneously, with little time to fully attend to them all. Strangers is one small attempt at such attendance.

Here’s Biblioasis’ description of the book:

“It makes no sense. You would be strangers / if not for this.”

In Strangers, Rob Taylor makes new the epiphany poem: the short lyric ending with a moment of recognition or arrival. In his hands, the form becomes not simply a revelation in words but, in Wallace Stevens’ phrase, “a revelation in words by means of the words.” The epiphany here is not only the poet’s. It’s ours. A book about the songlines of memory and language and the ways in which they connect us to other human beings, to read Strangers is to become part of the lineages (literary, artistic, familial) that it braids together—to become, as Richard Outram puts it, an “unspoken / Stranger no longer.”

Sample Poems

You Ask Me About My Mother
Weather in Dublin
What did you dream about?


“Rob Taylor’s fourth book of poetry, Strangers, masterfully holds together the contradictions of being fully alive in a world of loss.”

– Kevin Spenst, Canadian Notes & Queries

“Strangers… uses imagery as both revelation and reconciliation. The poems tease epiphany from memory, memory from language, language from grief and loss. I urge everyone to go out and buy this wonderful poetry collection that dares sadness and boldly remembers, imagining a present moment where our deceased loved ones and friends are still close by, albeit unseen, making loss and life more palpable.”

– Chris Banks, The Miramichi Reader

“What is most impressive about Taylor’s verse is its ability to be at once accessible and probing. The appearance of simplicity in poetry is so often deceptive; there is often great art behind it.

– Annick MacAskill, The Antigonish Review

“Taylor’s explorations of personal grief are masterful… Strangers is not “just” about grief, any more than grief is “just” about feeling sad. Throughout, we see connections between people in all their tangled, tangling glory, the movement of love running down the lines like electric pulses… Love is immanent, and so is everything else. In Strangers, Taylor welcomes us into his world with open arms.”

– Bryce Warnes, The Poetry Question

“Whether he is searching his way through “all the winding corridors” of his mother’s dementia or documenting his child’s learning process, acquiring language while the child’s grandmother loses hers, these poems’ disarmingly frank explorations of self knowledge represent a major advance on an already impressive poetic career.”

– Christopher Levenson, The Ormsby Review

“This collection is stunning in its poignant intimacy, in how the poet opens the door to his readers, inviting them to listen to his stories, but also bravely nudging them to consider their own recollections of how memory and story are woven into one another.”

– Kim Fahner, Periodicities: A Journal of Poetry and Poetics

“If compelling meditations distinguish these poems, so does their musicality.”

– Jodi Lundgren, Canadian Literature

Strangers [is] a personal book largely about parenthood, yet one that resonates beyond the domestic realm. The simple title is evocative… if poets by vocation are strangers, standing apart to observe, they can also be hosts, welcoming readers into the shelter of their art.”

– Nicholas Bradley, University of Toronto Quarterly

“The poems exude grief and joy, enthusiasm and fear; at times, simultaneously, as though an emotional well has found new depths. When one first begins to have children, parallels present themselves quickly, offering opportunities to reevaluate one’s own childhood, often for the first time, and in new and unexpected ways. And yet, this is a book of multiple transitions, repeatedly asking how one might get there from here, and wondering how one might survive.”

– rob mclennan, rob mclennan’s blog

“This is the book that reminds us of the steps in finding coherence in fear. “Don’t be a stranger” the poet reminds himself and us as life slips through our fingers, as every one of his fresh and vital poems reminds us of the firm grip of the newborn.”

– Linda Rogers, The Ormsby Review

Other Media

Interview in the Red Alder Review
Interview on TheCommentary.ca
Interview on the Page Fright podcast
Profile in the Tri-Cities Dispatch

Strangers on Goodreads

Order Strangers

At Your Local Bookstore!
Biblioasis Website (Print and e-Book editions)
Amazon.ca (Print and Kindle editions)