Don’t look for her poems at


Trained as a blacksmith, Elihu Burritt became a world traveler, a consul to England (appointed by Abraham Lincoln) and a reader of 50 languages – including Sanskrit.  All the languages were self-taught.  He opposed slavery.  He was an advocate for world peace.

Taylor Graham, an indirect descendent of his, has written more than 100 poems about him.  Sounds like an unpromising hobby for a 65-year-old woman?   Not so.

“Graham has worked outside the official world of poetry, and she has never been given anything like the attention she deserves,” said Dana Gioia, former head of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Dana knows her from way back:  When Dana was editor of Stanford’s literary review, Sequoia, he published one of her poems:  “Although it was a challenging and disturbing poem, it was so good that I knew we had to publish it,” he said.

Read the rest of the story at the Sacramento Bee here.  But for her poems?  Don’t try amazon — she’s not listed.  Try here instead.

Elihu Burritt

I happened to have on my bookshelf Dana’s anthology, California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present, and I can see what he meant.  “Challenging” and “disturbing” indeed — “Pieces of Henry” is about a serial killer.  I thought to quote “Chances,” but it is so short and tightly constructed that I can’t cite it without bringing the copyright hounds tearing after me.

The intro to her two poems describes her recent work in a “horror and traumatic fantasy” genre.  It’s obviously not her only genre.  Think of the Elihu Burritt poems.

Or her poems about animals. She’s worked with search-and-rescue dogs in Alaska.  In El Dorado County, she is active in protecting bluebird nesting areas.


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