Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry


Richard L. Taylor

Poet Laureate (1999-2001)

Richard L. Taylor is Professor of English at Kentucky State University.

"I graduated from Atherton High School [in Louisville, Kentucky] in 1959. I went to the University of Kentucky where I majored in English, graduated in 1963 as an English major, and worked there with the campus literary magazine. At that time it was called Stylus. . . . From UK in 1963 I went to the University of Louisville, where I worked on a master's degree for a year in English. I graduated in '64, and I was not certain what to do at that point, so I was persuaded by my father to go to law school for the next three years at the University of Louisville Law School. I had a rather not-what-you-would-call-extensive law practice, in either duration or intensity. I clerked in law school for my father's law firm, and practiced nearly two months before giving up the practice of law. When I decided that I was not going to practice law, my father was very understanding." ["Richard Taylor" [An Interview], in L. Elizabeth Beattie (ed.), Conversations with Kentucky Writers II 260-277, at 265-66 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2000)]

Taylor received his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.

Taylor was Kentucky Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 1999-2001. (Kentucky's first Poet Laureate, J.T. "Cotton" Noe, was also a lawyer.) Taylor received the Distinguished Professor Award at Kentucky State University in 1992 and has won two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a speaker for the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau and an antiquarian book dealer. Taylor lives near Frankfort, where he owns and Poor Richard's Books which is operated primarily by his wife.

Note: Two other Kentucky Poet Laureates were lawyers: Edward G. Hill (1928) and J.T. 'Cotton' Noe (1926).

Poor Richard: The familiar face and voice of Richard Taylor,
Kentucky's new poet laureate

Richard Taylor




Richard Taylor, Braintree: Fifteen Poems (Louisville, Kentucky: Scienter Press, 2004)

___________, Stone Eye: Poems (Monterey, Kentucky: Larkspur Press, 2001) [Northwestern University Library exhibit]

___________, In the Country of Morning Calm (Monterey, Kentucky: Larkspur Press, 2001)

___________, Earth Bones (Frankfort, Kentucky: Gnonom Press, 1979)

___________, Bluegrass (Monterey, Kentucky: Larkspur Press, 1975)


Richard Taylor, Girty (Berkeley, California: Turtle Island, 1977)(Frankfort, Kentucky: Gnonom Press, 1990)

___________, Three Kentucky Tragedies (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1991)

___________, The Palisades of the Kentucky River (Englewood, Colorado: Westcliffe Publishers, 1997)(photography by Adam Jones)

___________, The Great Crossing: A Historic Journey to Buffalo Trace Distillery (Frankfort, Kentucky: Buffalo Trace Distillery, 2002)

Neal O. Hammon & Richard Taylor, Virginia's Western War 1775-1786 (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 2002)


Richard Taylor, Roots and Wings: The Poetry of James Wright, Ph.d dissertation, University of Kentucky, 1974

Research Resources

Kentucky's Poet Laureates

A Literary Map

Kentucky: Online Poetry Classroom

Kentucky: Literary Tradition

Betty J. Sparks, Poets Laureate of Kentucky (Nicholasville, Kentucky: Wind Publications, 2004)