about “Rick Sings” and how to order

to order Rick Sings

send a check for $18
payable to Phil Taggart

to P.O. Box 559
Ventura, CA 93002

Email: ptagga@aol.com

Phil Taggart in Rick Sings offers us an eyewitness, heart witness report from the
edges. He gives voice to his mentally ill brother who is both his responsibility and
his guide on a journey through the past and into the restricted urban spaces where
those with mental illness are allowed. His intense poems, both sorrowing and
redemptive, are made with such care and skill that they become openings to almost
invisible lives. Phil ignites small flames that flicker against the larger dark…
cigarettes, disinfectant, urine/ and the songs of each room/ bleed into the hall…
The rhythmic power of the poems leads us into that hard won place where suffering
and confusion meet mystery.

Mary Kay Rummel, Ventura County Poet Laureate, author of numerous
books including The Lifeline Trembles

In Rick Sings Phil Taggart testifies to life in its most difficult and ungenerous
situations . . . yet from this he finds a voice, a music, that is clear, courageous,
and committed to living. He has made a poetry that in its candidness and
compassion finds a spare but essential meaning, a saving grace—a poetry that
rescues his brother Rick, that rescues us all.

Christopher Buckley, author of numerous books including
Back Room at the Philosophers’ Club

Here the struggles of the homeless, disadvantaged, dispossessed, come richly and
profoundly alive. A sad, strange family dynamic, the struggles and energies of those
dogged by mental and social instability, have found in Phil Taggart a monumentalizing
poet. He sings of them, of the engaging Rick to whom he is devoted particularly,
with redeeming honesty, sharp-mindedness and love. These are poems that follow
the beat of a generous heart.

Barry Spacks, former Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, author of numerous
books including Spacks Street

Philip Levine believes that fake language makes bad poems. There is no fake
language in Phil Taggart’s compelling collection of poems, Rick Sings. There is,
instead, a constant drum-beat, heart-beat that propels the reader into a riveting
underground of unfamiliar ethos. These poems are like musical notes sung through
the devotion of a man to his brother and to poetry itself. Taggart says, in his poem
“49,” the chafe separates/and the grain is luminant. His risky, edgy poems find their
way to radiance. Rick sings Patsy Cline and songs beyond imagination. The poems
do what poems are supposed to do. They are wild, personal, and smart; they confront
real-life ghosts. Taggart says I have never been comfortable with sanity in his poem
entitled “Last Night.” His raw honesty and invention of language leave me stunned.
William Stafford stated, “A poem is an emergency of the spirit.” Taggart’s poems
are emergencies of the highest order that shoot through the dark and come out as
stars. They are radiant with the light/that burns in us all.

Ellen Reich, author of Reverse Kiss and Sleeping Guardian

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