Publication Date:  October 15, 2020
Paperback, 40 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-71-7

Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution

$18.00 retail, or
when you order directly from
Broadstone Books, below
Mervyn Taylor, a Trinidad-born
poet and longtime Brooklyn resident,
has taught at Bronx Community College,
The New School, and in the New York City
public school system. He is the author of
seven previous books of poetry, including
The Waving Gallery (2014), and most
Country of Warm Snow (2020).
About his work, Nobel Laureate Derek
Walcott said, “Taylor’s is a quiet voice. His
poems possess an admirable degree of
subtlety, and a tone that keeps him separate
and unique.” Currently, he serves on the
advisory board of Slapering Hol Press.
It may be true, as often said, that journalism is the first draft of history. But to know
how it
felt to be alive at any point, to experience the world first-hand, poetry is the
truest record. That’s why the poems in this new chapbook from Mervyn Taylor are so
important, as poetry, yes, but also as documents of a crucial moment in time. That
specific moment was the lockdown in New York City in response to the Covid-19
outbreak, and many of the these poems speak directly of and to that event, beginning
with the opening poem that imagines the plants in the Botanic Gardens, blooming
unseen. In another poem he writes of bears roaming an art gallery, an image of life as
it might be without us, after us. This is news of the living, of a world from which we
are excluded, hopefully temporarily, for which we are already growing nostalgic.

But Taylor uses his time in isolation to give us other news of the living, a far less rose-
colored view of a world outside rife with racial and economic injustice and inequality.
For some, the dislocations of pandemic are nothing new, as in the South African
victim of apartheid who observes “Isolation is not new to us, we’ve been / locked
down a long time.”  In his “Epilogue” he connects the simultaneous crises of Covid
and police violence,

    On an asteroid called Covid-19
    came riding the figure of a man
    named George. Which, when

    it hit, opened such a crater in
    the conscience of mankind that
    the protesters are marching still….

In the span of these pages, Taylor gives us news of a world that he misses greatly and
longs to rejoin, but he also describes a world that needs very much to be reborn, to be
made better. Maybe, just maybe, these poems suggest, our Corona moment of
isolation will be a sort of chrysalis, a turning point, a realization that it’s time to leave
the old “normal” behind and emerge into a new one. And that would indeed be news.

Praise for Mervyn Taylor & News of the Living

Be infinitely grateful to get NEWS OF THE LIVING: CORONA POEMS from Mervyn
Taylor; know that even the unspeakable is made flesh in his spare sorrow, his subtle

    “In your parks where couples used to
    sprawl, waiting for musicians to play…
    not a jogger, or black boys who once stood
    accused, rounding any of the bends.”
    {Corona City}

Or in his lyrical surprises, his song and sense:

    “… the high C
    of a girl in a bedroom window
    passed on to the doorman,
    holding his hat like a tray,
    carefully, as though a vaccine
    had been found for the virus,
    as the last note faded away.”
    {Corona Impromptu}

                                                               —Estha Weiner, author of at the last minute

Early in this poignant collection that covers the pandemic and the protests, Mervyn
Taylor, at the height of his powers, writes, “this is the dying season.” These heart-
wrenching poems take the reader from Naples to South Africa, from the Botanic
Gardens of Brooklyn to the Carnival parades of Trinidad as the world locks down and
the death toll rises. Taylor’s is one of the great voices of his generation and these
poems prove why. His unflinching cinematographic eye, his ear for language, and his
peerless empathy transform the personal into the universal. These poems allow the
reader to appreciate the scope of the tragedy that statistics and news stories about the
coronavirus cannot adequately convey. These poems are a testament to why humanity
will always turn to poetry to tell us “news of the living.” While a glut of pandemic
poems have been written during the spring and summer of 2020, Taylor’s skillful
collection will be read long after there is a vaccine. Like Larkin, Taylor reminds us,
“what will survive of us is love.”
                                                              —Jennifer Franklin, author of
No Small Gift
News of the
Corona Poems
A chapbook by
Author photo by Marcia Wilson