Swimming Back
poems by Taylor Altman

“Perfect leaps in space, time, and thought are one of Altman’s more obvious gifts, appearing most notably in 'Naples' and in 'The Empty Pool.' ... Ultimately, like the rivers and passages of time illuminated in Altman’s absorbing new book, we must carry what we can—memories, stories, histories—and move on. The last line of the book, from 'Before Rush Hour,' puts it enviably simply: 'The day is brought to us, and we go forth.'"
Prick of the Spindle

“Taylor Altman shows incredible strength and restraint in this, her debut collection. A graduate of Stanford University, she displays an ability to capture a moment in time and guide the reader through every detail."
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?

“Altman has written a lovely first book of verse. I expect that we will see a lot more from her in the future. ...[H]ighly recommended."
The Somerville News

"In her first book, Taylor Altman highlights the neutral essence of time and the emotional traumas that result from the death of her narrator’s father."

“Taylor Altman has progressed more rapidly over the past few years than any young poet I know. Her work now possesses a hard-won clarity and depth, remarkable in a writer still in her twenties, and she is able to write of profound (and our profoundly shared) human experiences with genuine authority. ‘No one is young by the end/of their travels; their minds/are numbed by splendor,’ she writes, and I can only marvel and concur.”
—Franz Wright, author of Walking to Martha’s Vineyard (2004 Pulitzer Prize)

“This new collection, one that’s an exciting promise for what Taylor Altman’s future will be as a poet, is remarkable for its clarity, and for her disciplined and effective art. These poems are emotionally expressive and descriptively vivid. But there’s nothing accidental about them. This young poet is unusually aware of what her objectives are and how to realize them.”
—David Ferry, author of Of No Country I Know (2000 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry)

“Still in her twenties, Taylor Altman already shows a masterful ear and eye. In poems like ‘Fog,’ ‘Salt,’ and ‘Before Rush Hour,’ she matches her formal, sonic tensions with an intense attunement to the world of objects. She dwells in a space that remains, as Stevens would have it, ‘So far beyond the casual solitudes.’”
—Peter Campion, author of Other People

Listed in "Five New Faces in Lit" in What to Wear During an Orange Alert?'s Holiday Guide 2008.

Set against the changing seasons in suburban America, the poems of Swimming Back chronicle a young woman’s struggle to make sense of her world after the early loss of her father. In various guises and with striking clarity, Taylor Altman invites us to experience transcendence in the form of a broken clock, a long-forgotten photograph, or the melancholy of a summer afternoon. These poems, with their incredible range of human emotion, effectively transform grief into art.