Henry Taylor

Poet Information

Henry Splawn Taylor

About the Poet

Henry Taylor photo

Poet and translator Henry Taylor was born in Lincoln, Virginia on June 21, 1942. He earned a BA from the University of Virginia and an MA from Hollins University. Taylor’s many poetry collections include Crooked Run (2006); Understanding Fiction: Poems 1986-1996; The Flying Change (1985), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize; An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards (1975); and The Horse Show at Midnight (1966).

He has translated works from Bulgarian, French, Hebrew, Italian, and Russian. His translations include Black Book of the Endangered Species (1999) by the Bulgarian poet Vladimir Levchev and Electra (1988) by Sophocles. Taylor is a professor of literature and co-director of the MFA program in creative writing at American University in Washington, DC. In 2001 he was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Despite his disbelief that he could earn such a prestigious award, the Pulitzer is not the only major prize Taylor has won. His other honours include the Witter Bynner Foundation Poetry Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Golden Crane Award of the Washington Chapter of the American Literary Translators Association.

In addition to this awareness, however, Taylor also has a sense for the comic. Indeed, the poet has remarked that he was first recognized as the author of several verse parodies, which he submitted to the magazine Sixties. These parodies, along with other poems, appear in the author’s first poetry collection, The Horse Show at Midnight (1966). This book also contains poems concerned with the unavoidable changes people must go through in life, a theme that dominates many of Taylor’s verses.

A lover of horses since his childhood in rural Virginia, Taylor uses an equestrian term for the title of his fifth book of poems, The Flying Change (1985).

From the Poetry Foundation



Virginia City or County Affiliation

Leesburg, Virginia

Current City/State of Residence

New Mexico





Year of Birth


Published Works or Performances

  • An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards. University of Utah Press, 1975.
  • Breakings. Solo Press, 1969.
  • Brief Candles: 101 Clerihews. Louisiana State University Press, 2000.
  • The Children of Herakles. Oxford University Press, 1982.
  • Compulsory Figures: Essays on Recent American Poets. Louisiana State University Press, 1992.
  • Crooked Run. Louisiana State University Press, 2006.
  • Curculio (a translation of the play by Titus Maccius Plautus). Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Electra (a verse translation of Sophocles’ play). University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998.
  • The Flying Change. Louisiana State University Press, 1986.
  • The Girl in the Black Raincoat. Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1966.
  • The Horse Show at Midnight and An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards. Louisiana State University Press, 1965.
  • Poetry: Points of Departure. Winthrop, 1974.
  • Understanding Fiction: Poems, 1986–1996. Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
  • The Water of Light: A Miscellany in Honor of Brewster Ghiselin. University of Utah Press, 1976.

Selected Individual Poems or Performances

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Henry Taylor