Catherine Taylor

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"[A] brilliant and relentless examination of conscience" — Brian Teare

Apart grew out of Taylor’s memories of visiting her family in South Africa as a child and her later curiosity about her (white) mother’s involvement in early anti-apartheid women’s groups. Mixing narrative prose, poems, social and political theory, and found texts culled from years of visiting South African archives and libraries, Apart navigates the difficult landscapes of history, shame, privilege, and grief.


Excerpt ˇ


from Apart

Fear has a tailwind. Fear colonizes quickly. Fear is calculating red lights and bystanders and petrol levels even now as I write you this letter upside down under the Southern Cross.

* * *

bad family’s a cancer or a cause, celebration’s inevitable denial flaunts misdeeds and even evil cleans its teeth in the mirror of not me, not my people.


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Advance Praise

Documentary poetics can break your heart, and Catherine Taylor’s first book of poems, Apart, certainly will…—Sarah Barber, The Literary Review
Catherine Taylor's Apart offers an intimate and sweeping look at the legacy of apartheid, while performing an altogether rare balance of 'lyric seduction' against 'the ugliness of corpses.' Taylor refreshingly treats white guilt and the self-conscious recognition of privilege as starting points rather than conclusions, as she plumbs the depths of history, from which, as she reminds us, 'no one is excused.' The result is edifying, original, and critically rigorous -- a poetic and political vibration between 'ecstasy, shame, ecstasy, shame.'—Maggie Nelson
Everything begins as duality (the personal and the historical, ideas of white and ideas of black), and becomes more—even hopelessly—complex...It is not so much that everything is dual, but as Taylor eventually notes, a 'jammed hinge.' Everything remains, as the title has it, apart. In exploring the unresolvable, everything becomes a part.—Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich