Illinois Authors

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Taylor Byas

Connection to Illinois: Byas is a native Chicagoan.

Biography: Dr. Taylor Byas, Ph.D. is a poet, essayist and editor. Originally from Chicago, she moved to Alabama for six years, where she received both her Bachelor’s degree in English and her Master’s degree in English (Creative Writing concentration) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Taylor currently lives in Cincinnati. She is also an Assistant Features Editor for The Rumpus, a Poetry Acquisitions Editor for Variant Literature, an Editorial Board Member for Beloit Poetry Journal, and a Poetry Instructor for Frontier Poetry’s inaugural Pocket MFA. She is a coeditor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vol X: Alabama, forthcoming from Texas Review Press, and Poemhood: Our Black Revival a YA anthology surrounding Black folklore forthcoming from HarperCollins.

  • I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times Shortlisted for the Maya Angelou Book Award The Millions, A Must-Read Poetry Book of Summer

Primary Literary Genre(s): Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

ISBN: 1955602018 OCLC: 1292588514

Variant Literature 2021

Bloodwarm is a collection that explores what it's like to live in a Black body that is constantly scrutinized and dissected beneath the white gaze. These poems both utilize and reinvigorate classic poetic forms with a voice that speaks back to the mob that hunts it. This book is an act of rebellion, an assertion of worth, a will to live. Poetry.

I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times: Poems
ISBN: 1593767412 OCLC: 1357020763

Soft Skull 2023

Shortlisted for the Maya Angelou Book Award Inspired by The Wiz, this debut, full-length poetry collection celebrates South Side Chicago and a Black woman’s quest for self-discovery—one that pulls her away from the safety of home and into her power. I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times takes its inspiration and concept from the cult classic film The Wiz to explore a Black woman’s journey out of the South Side of Chicago and into adulthood. The narrative arc of The Wiz—a tumultuous departure from home, trials designed to reveal new things about the self, and the eventual return home—serves as a loose trajectory for this collection, pulling readers through an abandoned barn, a Wendy's drive-thru, a Beyoncé video, Grandma's house, Sunday service, and the corner store. At every stop, the speaker is made to confront her womanhood, her sexuality, the visibility of her body, alcoholism in her family, and various ways in which narratives are imposed on her. Subverting monolithic ideas about the South Side of Chicago, and re-casting the city as a living, breathing entity, I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times spans sestinas, sonnets, free-verse, and erasures, all to reimagine the concept of home. Chicago isn’t just a city, but a teacher, a lingering shadow, a way of seeing the world.