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Unterberg Poetry Center

Courtney Faye Taylor

Courtney Faye Taylor is a 2017 winner of the 92Y’s Discovery / Boston Review Poetry Contest and a MFA graduate from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and The Hopwood Poetry Award from the University of Michigan. Her work appears or is forthcoming in TriQuarterly, Boston Review, Witness and elsewhere. She is currently working on her first book. For more information, visit:

Below are Courtney Faye Taylor’s poem “how lives may matter in 2031” and a draft of that poem, originally printed in the Winners’ Reading program May 8, 2017, as well as a short video excerpt from that night.

  • how lives may matter in 2031

    Apology will be an automated album. It will sound each rise and set like Istanbul’s call to worship: Congress offers a knee. Millennials cease the tagging of Farrakhanian theory on bridges and too, bow their minds. But some wince from the loudspeaker’s cry like a noosed carotid in fan blades, press the tragus back when the trumpets drone. They are hermits of the negro heart; critics who do not publish. Now schools require proficiency in Blue Badge Apology and my daughter is driven deaf with affinity for Darren Wilson’s grit, his slaying of Goliath’s swisher sweet tongue. About Joseph Weekley she’ll ask, did a kid’s night slumber really provoke gunfire in Detroit? Refer to yourself as a child, a kid is a baby goat (In 2031 they do not teach animalism and irony. Tradition, like the way you teach toddlers to wipe front to back). When fifth birthday ushered me to literacy, my mother gifted her griot tongue— Beloved as bedtime curriculum. Meaning, I learned the grace of infant offing at the turn of this century, back when I was of Baby Phat and Goody poodle barrettes before the shredded skin the world remembers. In 2031 I am Mamie Till band-aid to fun-size casket, citrus bitter widow, other archetypes of sorry. Saving my daughter means deleting the lock of hand, the tucking choke of bedspread. This is the torrid form of apology, like feline scorn of newborns wrecked in colonial scent. But human scorn is instructive; eviction with a mural of safety tips:    •wear back brace to pool    •flick the turn signal    avoid weekday bible study         •list attorney as emergency contact      •ask mother if she loves you   (though she never says it, what if someday she is brave enough to spit it to you?).
  • Manuscript page

Courtney Faye Taylor reads “Suicide”