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Episode 22: Keith Taylor’s Ecstatic Destinations

Write what you know

Ecstatic Destinations book cover

(Alice Greene & Co., 2018)

Poet Keith Taylor isn’t your typical outdoorsman: you won’t find him climbing Mt. Everest, running a marathon, or racing across town on a bike with really skinny tires.

You will have far more luck scanning the benches at Veterans Park in Ann Arbor. There you might see Taylor scribbling in his notebook, experiencing the outdoors on his own terms. That’s where he created much of the work that appears in his new poetry collection, Ecstatic Destinations.

“I was thinking about those French painters who did all their work outdoors,” he says, “en plein air. So I decided to write all these poems outdoors.”

Allusions to the deer cull, Allen Creek’s “revenge,” and other local events and experiences read like a warm love song to Taylor’s adopted hometown. The native Canadian settled in Ann Arbor after falling in love with a woman from Detroit. Here, he nurtured his other loves — selling books (the original Borders Books and Shaman Drum kept him alive for many years) and teaching creative writing to graduate students and undergrads as the A.L. Becker Collegiate Lecturer at U-M. He also was director of the Bear River Writers Conference.

Taylor has written or edited some 13 books or chapbooks, including Ghost Writers (co-edited with U-M professor/author Laura Kasischke), The Bird-While,and Fidelities. His work has appeared widely in journals, magazines, anthologies, and newspapers. Taylor also has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and support from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs.

An avid birder and environmentalist, he also was recruited to teach at U-M’s Biological Station in Northern Michigan during the summer, “because they needed someone who could teach scientists about writing.” Taylor recently completed his last stint up there, a place he loves dearly due to its proximity to some of Ernest Hemingway’s most inspiring getaways.

In this episode of Listen in, Michigan, Taylor speaks about his love of nature, Ann Arbor, and serendipity. Plus, he reads poems! Hear more “Listen In, Michigan” podcasts and subscribe at Google Play Music, iTunesTunein, and Stitcher. 


  1. David Seibert

    Deborah, thanks for the brilliant interview.
    You referred to a video of Keith’s exit interview. Were you talking about the exit interview at Literati Bookstore with Cody Walker? or were you referring to the going away party the department had?
    I’ve seen the latter and attended the former. I took notes on the Literati event, which I’d love to correct if there is video or even audio available.
    Thank you again.


    • Deborah Holdship

      Hi, David: I will track that down and send you a link! Pretty sure it was the Literati event.


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