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ABBY TAYLOR ~ SPOKEN WORD POET AND PAPER POET

by Robert "Bob" Bussey

CAUTION: SOME STRONG LANGUAGE

Abby Taylor is both a Spoken Word Poet and a Paper Poet. Most of us are familiar with poetry set down on paper.

Spoken word poetry is a poetry form that became popular in the early 20th-century. It is one of the most important modern art forms. However, it is also one of the early history art forms. It finds its roots in ancient oral traditions and performances, from Greece and other countries. The term “spoken word” or “spoken word poetry” includes all the modern poems that are spoken aloud. It contains a number of features of rap, hip-hop, jazz, rock, blues, spirituals, and folk songs.

During her interview she indicated that she wants teens, young adults, and even adults to know that you can use poetry to heal. “That you can take your pain and turn it into something beautiful. Even if the pain itself is not beautiful.” That even if you’ve had a terrible life, you can turn it into something else. She was a poet before she started to have problems in her life, problems not of her own making. She was about six years old when she discovered poetry and discovered that you could make words rhyme. Most of those early poems were simple and about love. However, when she was around 25 or 28 years old, she
realized that you could also write about “bad” stuff in poetry. “Poetry doesn’t have to be about love and butterflies, and all these pretty things.” While she likes symbolism, she doesn’t feel that is always necessary, and feels that her poetry is easy to understand.

She was a poet before she started to have problems in her life, problems not of her own making. She was about six years old when she discovered poetry and discovered that you could make words rhyme. Most of those early poems were simple and about love. However, when she was around 25 or 28 years old, she realized that you could also write about “bad” stuff in poetry. “Poetry doesn’t have to be about love and butterflies, and all these pretty things.” While she likes symbolism, she doesn’t feel that is always necessary, and feels that her poetry is easy to understand.

Some of her poetry is about her life experiences. She finds it very hard to write about something that she has not individually experienced. She has had sufficient life events to be able to draw from them rather than trying to make something up. Much of the poetry she writes is autobiographical. In fact, the book she just published is often described as a diary more than a collection of poems. You, the reader, can decide while you’re reading her book. The book is composed of thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

While some of her poetry is what we would call spoken word poetry, she does not solely concentrate on that type. It really wasn’t until just a few years ago that she became knowledgeable about spoken poetry. She first became acquainted with spoken word poetry through a poet by the name of Janet McGhee Watson, who goes by the stage name of Janette … lkz. The poem that she heard from Janet Watson was eight minutes long, and she was dumbfounded by how a poet could remember a poem that long without any props. Soon she memorized the poem she had heard, and then realized that if she could memorize the poem by Janet that was eight minutes long, then she could start writing and speaking her own poetry that was also lengthy in nature. Spoken word poetry, as she explains it does not have to rhyme. It can be whatever you want it to be. Then she found “Ignite The Mic”, a local group of spoken word poets, and her maturation as a spoken word poet took off from there.

Some of her work is not for the faint of heart. She generally does not like to give titles to her work, but one that we will call “Bitches Ain’t Shit” is both about her mom and about other women, in general, who have broken her heart. It all started with her cat running away. Her cat was a female, and she questioned why the cat would run away in the first place. (In the poem, you will notice that the cat has been replaced by a dog for artistic liberty reasons.) That then reminded her of human females who abruptly left her life or abandoned her, including her mom, and left her holding onto her own emotions at a very young age. The poem is set out below:

Bitches Ain’t Shit

My dog ran away
and the first thing that came to mind was, “You dumb bitch.
Did I not give you everything?
Did I not shelter
and feed
and coddle you?
Did I not stay up all night constantly going back and forth to the front door looking for you,
worried that I might miss the very second you decided to come home?
Did I not go trample through the woods in the dead of summer searching for you?
Knowing good and well, I don’t even f… with mosquitoes like that?
Did I not?”

My ex-girlfriend broke up with me
via text
using the lame excuse that she just “needed space”
(even though she already lived in Florida, but whatever)
So, naturally, the first thing that came to my mind was,
“You dumb bitch.
Did I not give you everything?
Did I not shelter your spirit,
feed your ego
and coddle your soul?
Did I not stay up all night constantly going back and forth to the front door looking for you,
worried that I might miss the very second you decided to come home?
Did I not open up my heart and expose myself to my greatest fear,
knowing good and well I don’t even f… with girls like that, did I not?”

My mother abandoned me as a baby. And not even in a super cool way where she
was decent enough to go drop me off on somebody’s doorstep so I could at least
have a chance, nah,
she just put me off on her sister.
Who put me off on her other sister—which made me feel like I was never really
“wanted”, only tolerated.
Years later my mother had a stroke that left her completely paralyzed on her left side.
And at the time, I had 3 kids, 2 cats, one hamster,
a full-time job, a part-time job,
And guess who never left her side?
THIS dumb bitch.

On the 4th floor of Cabrini Hospital, I cried as I watched my mother take her first steps.
She thought it was tears of joy
and I didn’t have the heart to tell her otherwise.
But deep down I was devastated because…isn’t this supposed to be the other way around?
I’m not supposed to be teaching you
how to chew
how to swallow
how to eat
how to bathe
how to dress
how to speak
BITCH, WHERE WERE YOU
when I took my first step?
Or when I stayed awake constantly going back and forth to the front door looking for you,
knowing good and well, you didn’t even f… with me like that.
Did I not shelter
and spoon feed
and nurse you back to life?
Just for you to walk away from me?
Again?!
On the very legs I HELPED YOU STAND ON?!
You raggedy
ungrateful
awful
dumb
Bitch.

Her mom, who abandoned her early in life, (Abby was raised by her two aunts), was also a poet. Abby read those poems, which she characterizes as simplistic, and copied that style in her early love poems. She still has her mom’s poems tucked away in a notebook. However, Abby started to strike out on her own, find her own poetry style, once she matured and became independent, and after she went through therapy, and after she discovered the world of spoken poetry.

The men in her life also did not turn out to be Prince Charmings. A poem she wrote about spousal abuse is from her personal experiences. She also experienced sexual abuse at an early age, she was 9 or 10 years old. She never told any adult about the sexual abuse (a common response) until she saw a therapist later in life. Now read this poem from Abby that has no title:

The most unsettling truth
I’ve ever heard is that I have “that aura.”
I don’t know why I have it.
I don’t know where it came from.
I do know that I don’t want it.
But I don’t know how to get rid of it.
I appreciate this information
Because it felt honest
And, assuming that it is true,
It would answer questions
That have plagued me since a child.
It makes it make sense
Why only specific men
With peculiar tastes
Are attracted to me.
Why I have always felt more
Sought out
Than desired.
More preyed upon
Than prayed for.
More groomed
Than bride.

Delving into how she writes her “spoken word” poetry, she indicated that “rhythm” comes first, then the words, thoughts and emotions. She works with the flow, the pauses, the hesitations, as if creating a musical song in 3/4 or 2/4 time or some other musical metric. Western music, it turns out, inherited the concept of meter from poetry, where it denotes the number of lines in a verse, the number of syllables in each line, and the arrangement of those syllables as long or short, accented or unaccented.

Her spoken word poetry usually takes place in a “coffee house” type atmosphere with 20 or 30 people in attendance. Via her new book, “Words That Start With L” you can follow Abby’s development. You can sense her thoughts, her feelings, as she sets out a personal history of sorts on its various pages. But, be ready to be shaken, be relieved, because this is a book that frankly sets out not just loving moments, but moments of extreme heartache.

You can find “Words That Start With L” via Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Words-That-Start-anthology-scattered/dp/B0CRTKT84C/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3EAA0I0S4W366&keywords=words+that+start+with+l&qid=1706991872&sprefix=words+that+start+with+l%2Caps%2C458&sr=8-1

https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/words-that-start-with-l-an-anthology-of-scattered-thoughts-quotes–poems_abby-taylor/51970738/#edition=70713017&idiq=63012421

You can also listen to some of Abby’s spoken word poetry at the following locations:

https://www.instagram.com/_abbydarling?igsh=Z3c3dzRubWR0YXB4

http://www.youtube.com/@_abbydarling

 

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