Taylor Johnson


Taylor Johnson is from Washington, DC. They are the author of Inheritance (Alice James Books, 2020), winner of the 2021 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His work appears in The Paris Review, The Baffler, Scalawag, and elsewhere. Johnson is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and a recipient of the 2017 Larry Neal Writers’ Award from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the 2021 Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging Writers from Lambda Literary. Source


Everyday I build the little boat,

my body boat, hold for the unique one,

the formless soul, the blue fire

that coaxes my being into being.


Yes, there was music in the woods, and

I was in love with the trees, and a beautiful man

grew my heartbeat in his hands, and there

was my mother’s regret that I slept with.


To live there is pointless. I’m building the boat,

the same way I’d build a new love—

looking ahead at the terrain. And the water

is rising, and the generous ones are moving on.


O New Day, I get to build the boat!

I tell myself to live again.

Somehow I made it out of being 15

and wanting to jump off the roof


of my attic room. Somehow I survived

my loneliness and throwing up in a jail cell.

O New Day, I’ve broken my own heart. The boat

is still here, is fortified in my brokeness.


I’ve picked up the hammer every day

and forgiven myself. There is a new

language I’m learning by speaking it.

I’m a blind cartographer, I know the way


fearing the distance. O New Day,

there isn’t a part of you I don’t love

to fear. I’m holding hands with

the poet speaking of light, saying I made it up


I made it up.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Body & Body Image


Joy & Praise

LGBTQ+ Experience

Strength & Resilience

Literary Devices:


an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified)


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem