5 Questions with Courtney Faye Taylor, Author of Concentrate

Nov 22, 2022

Courtney Faye Taylor is a writer and visual artist. She is the author of Concentrate (Graywolf Press, 2022), selected by Rachel Eliza Griffiths as the winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Courtney earned her BA from Agnes Scott College and her MFA from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program where she received the Hopwood Prize in Poetry. She is also the winner of the 92Y Discovery Prize and an Academy of American Poets Prize. The recipient of residencies and fellowships from Cave Canem and the Charlotte Street Foundation, Courtney’s work can be found in Poetry Magazine, The Nation, Ploughshares, Best New Poets, The New Republic and elsewhere.

City Lights will be celebrating Concentrate with a virtual conversation between Courtney Faye Taylor and Chantz Erolin on Monday, November 28, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. PT.


Where are you writing to us from?

Kansas City, MO.

What is bringing you joy right now, personally/artistically/habitually?

Traveling to new cities, going on evening walks, and making oat milk vanilla lattes.

Which writers, artists, and others influence your work in general, and this book, specifically?

I turn to Toni Cade Bambara and Lucille Clifton for encouragement, for directions on speaking truth. While writing Concentrate, I was guided by the work of Cathy Park Hong, Brenda Stevenson, and Anna Deavere Smith—writers who’ve studied Latasha Harlins, the LA Uprising, and the relationship between Black and Asian-American communities.

What books are you reading right now and would you recommend any to others?

Right now, I’m reading Janice N. Harrington’s Even the Hollow My Body Made is Gone and Kamilah Aisha Moon’s Starshine & Clay.

If you opened a bookstore, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?

It would be called Claudette’s and located in Atlanta. My bestseller would be Ama Codjoe’s Bluest Nude.

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