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The Magic City Poetry Festival: An Evening With Taylor Byas

headshot of Taylor Byas, book cover of Bloodwarm; at the bottom "The Magic City Poetry Festival and PEN America Birmingham Present: An Evening With Taylor Byas"

Thank you for joining us for an evening with award winning poet, Taylor Byas. This conversation was conducted as part of the Magic City Poetry Festival and is sponsored by PEN America Birmingham

The Magic City Poetry Festival is a celebration of community through local poetry, history, nonprofits, craftspersons, and culture workers in Birmingham, Alabama.


About Taylor

Taylor Byas headshotTaylor Byas is a Black poet and essayist. Originally from Chicago, she moved to Alabama for six years, where she received both her Bachelor’s degree in English and her Master’s degree in English (Creative Writing concentration) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Taylor currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio where she is a third year PhD student and Albert C. Yates Scholar at the University of Cincinnati studying poetry. She is also an Assistant Features Editor for The Rumpus.

She has received five Pushcart and six Best of the Net nominations, and has won a Best Microfiction Award. She is also the 1st Place Winner of the 2020 Poetry Super Highway Contest, the 2020 Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets, the 2021 Adrienne Rich Poetry Award, a finalist for the 2020 Frontier OPEN Prize, and an Honorable Mention for the 2021 Ninth Letter Literary Award in Poetry.

Her chapbook, Bloodwarm, is out now from Variant Lit (2021). Her second chapbook, Shutter, is forthcoming from Madhouse Press in March of 2022. Her debut full-length poetry collection, I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times, is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press in the Spring of 2023.

Taylor Byas gets to the bone of it. In Bloodwarm, Byas illuminates Blackness and the ways in which this country is riddled with a violent colonial gaze and a thirst for Black blood, even in the grocery store, at the gas station, on the night roads of Alabama in a sundown town, in the cage of a pantoum, the ease of a sonnet, the revelatory erasure. These poems are exact in their questioning—Byas gives the reader a beating heart on each page, even when that heart is stopped by a policeman’s gun or by the slur thrown into a speaker’s back. There is a “gift [of] fire” in these pages. Byas, unrelenting, ignites us all.

—Ashley M. Jones, PEN America Birmingham Chapter Leader, Alabama State Poet Laureate, and author of Magic City Gospel, Dark//Thing, and Reparations Now!


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