Erin Taylor is Alive
"What kind of people do you hang out with?" I ask Erin Taylor. "All kinds of people," she replies. "My best friends are varying ages, from their twenties to their sixties. Most of my best friends live on different continents from me, or different cities, or just different countries."
A twenty-two year old poet living in Brooklyn, Erin has a propensity to meet people who see the world in gorgeous ways. "I've travelled a lot for school so I basically ended up falling in love with people all over," she tells me. “People who remind me that the world has light in it.” She completed her four year undergraduate degree in Global Studies through Long Island University during which time she studied the impacts of globalization and colonialism in various locations. Despite her many travels, she maintains that her mom has the "best sense of humor in the whole world."
Erin lived in Costa Rica, China, Spain, Australia, and Thailand. Then she moved to Brooklyn to finish her undergraduate degree, since the last semester was in New York.
Why did she stay in New York? "I've stayed just because I slowly created a community I can really appreciate," she says. "I mostly just hang out with my friends and go to readings or parties. I love a good time."
Erin is originally from Oklahoma, which she reminds me is an incredibly conservative and religious part of the country. "Growing up there, it really forced me to own myself and my views," she says. "It's not really a place you can be a writer and be taken seriously. Or an artist of any kind. The only art taken seriously in Oklahoma is landscape paintings."
As a child, Erin wrote fiction exclusively "but it was always really chaotic and horror based." She has recently revisited fiction, however. "I'm working on a novella that focuses on queerness, polyamory, mental health, and commitment issues," she reveals. "It's felt good to explore that possibility."
Erin has been writing poetry since she was twelve but didn't start trying to publish seriously until she was nineteen. "I didn't realize you could actually be a poet in this day and age until I was nineteen, she says." "When I told people I wanted to be a poet, they basically would be like, 'Oh cool, but what are you really going to do?'"
She laments the lack of encouragement she had when she was younger. "I wish I had more teachers talking about poetry. I had a few but the majority of them talked about it like it was a dead thing." She informs me that her working class background has created a complex that she has towards all contemporary art and literature. "It feels inaccessible and not designated for me, as if I exist outside of it. Whenever I get asked to read or have work solicited, I feel like I'm tricking someone," she shares.
Erin started writing poetry after a severely traumatic incident occurred. "I don't think it was like, 'Oh, I have to write a poem about this!' in the same way I approach horrible things happening now," she says. "It was the only way I knew how to process the events happening around me that were completely out of my control. It was the only way I could escape. Poetry has been my longest relationship."
I asked Erin what prompted her to publish her work when she was nineteen. "I was at the worst mental health period of my life," she replies. "I had this perspective that I had nothing left to lose.” So what ended up happening? “The more people actually enjoyed reading my work or chose to publish it, the more I actually felt I had worth that I had previously not found in myself." Poetry was crucial to Erin’s mental recovery and is far from a dead thing. Keep reading to learn more about some of her faves. //
RS: What would you recommend to someone looking to get into your line of work?
ET: I don't know if I would recommend being a poet to anyone. You either are one or you aren't, I think. It's not something that can be helped. That doesn't mean poets don't need to work on their craft, but more that I can't imagine "looking to get into writing poetry" because it's either something you do or you don't. It's that simple.
RS: What are the main challenges of your art?
ET: The main challenge of creating, for me, is actually doing it. I have a very bad habit of getting caught up in life and then having so much within me that I must do until I burst. I'm bad with consistency. I'll go weeks writing every day yet not submitting or months of not writing yet submitting or months of nothing. I've gone through phases. I've had periods of just prolific output and then periods of drought.
RS: Who are some of your favourite artists?
ET: I love the artists Molly Soda, Leila Plouffe, Mary Mattingly, and Carla Uriarte a lot. My favorite writers (right now) are Joan Didion, Rebecca Solnit, Larissa Pham, and Kathy Acker. More specifically, my favorite poets (currently) are Dalton Day, Richard Siken, Jenny Zhang, and Precious Okoyomon.
RS: Best concert you've been to?
ET: Mitski at Union Transfer in Philadelphia in the summer of 2017.
RS: Favourite cities?
ET: My favorite cities are Hong Kong, Sydney, and Philadelphia.
RS: Favourite feeling?
ET: My favorite feeling is chaotic happiness.
RS: When was the last time you reckon you felt chaotic happiness?
ET: Honestly buying a whip the other day and getting to play with someone with it. I felt giddy and ridiculous.
RS: What do you friends or family members describe as your "quirks?"
ET: I say goodnight instead of goodbye at all times of day. I will say "Night night" to you after getting breakfast with you.