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"For more than 20 years, Merideth Taylor has been bearing witness to old, fading buildings in St. Mary's County, Md., where she lives. Most are small homes or farmsteads, empty and cloaked in a mantle of abandonment and decay. Contained in their flaking paint, sagging roofs and enveloping vines are the traces of lives that have been lived and the joys and sorrows of the people who once occupied them. These 'ghost voices,' as she calls them, have been captured in her book, Listening In. Her images are accompanied by imagined narrative vignettes for each property, where fictional occupants speak to one another."
—Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, read the full artice here

"Listening In captures twentieth-century life in St. Mary's County that could easily have been forgotten as progress in the twenty-first century speeds along. I highly recommend this delightful and important book with its beautiful photography and engaging vignettes inspired by local oral histories."
—Dr. Barbara Luck Bershon, former Chair of the Maryland State Arts Council

"Merideth Taylor has given the people of St. Mary's County and all who come to know its unique voices and places an incredible gift in the form of Listening In, her brilliant new book. Through her creatively written "ghost stories" and perfectly chosen photographs, she imagines conversations in the homes, churches, schools, barns, businesses, and other structures, mostly in sad condition, over the course of a century or more. It was a bold decision for Taylor to adopt such an untraditional approach to convey the stories of the people and places in St. Mary's County, but she succeeds beautifully. It's history, for sure, but it's much more than that: Taylor's book allows the reader to get a deep sense of who these people are and where they lived and worked and spent their time. Most writers and artists could not have accomplished this feat, but the very talented Merideth Taylor employs her many gifts to draw us in as real-time observers. Listening In is a great treat, and I strongly recommend it."
—Richard Moe, Former President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (1993–2010)

"We have all seen old buildings, peeping out from behind screens of brush, sinking slowly back into the earth, farms and stores and homes whispering to us of the past. Merideth Taylor amplifies their voices, giving us brief, poignant, and evocative glimpses into the lives, loves, and losses that these buildings have seen. Her stories, though imagined, are so well grounded in their place and time in history that they ring indisputably true, capturing the heroic, the tragic, the joyful, and the playfulness of everyday lives lived in St. Mary's County's past. Accompanied by vivid photographs, the stories help us remember that homes fallen to ruin were once filled with real people. We are reminded of their work, of their hopes, and how they are woven into the history of southern Maryland. Listening In is a stunning, gripping, beautiful, and important book."
—Elizabeth Pickard, Director of Interpretation at the Missouri History Museum

"St. Mary's County, Maryland, has been home to humans for the past 12,000 years. Its fertile fields and dense woodlands are bisected by numerous rivers and streams, all flowing into Chesapeake Bay. The county's past is rich, varied, and as old as time itself, and Merideth Taylor understands the complexity of that past, as she so ably demonstrates in Listening In. Her keen sense of place and understanding of its importance is impeccable, and her photographs and stories truly capture the essence of St. Mary's County, where colonial Maryland began. You can almost smell tobacco curing in the barn, feel the breezes off the St. Mary's River, hear the snap of canvas sails and taste the homemade biscuits. Merideth Taylor's book is based on a deep understanding of her home and its people, both past and present."
—Patricia Samford, Director of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

"Listening In is a book about the lives of ordinary people and the threads that connect them to one another and to places familiar but forgotten. What is past is prologue, and there is great power in Taylor's words and images. Her book is a love letter to rural Maryland."
—Fred Tutman, Patuxent River Keeper

"Listening In is an innovative combination of artwork, novel, and history. Seldom have I seen such a creative and refreshing way to tell the history of a place."
—Kenneth Cohen, Curator of American Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

"In Listening In, Meridith Taylor documents the radically changed and changing landscape of St. Mary's County and does so in an unusual and unique way that is intensely personal. Creating brief scenes as if in a play or dance, her approach clearly draws upon her experience in theater and dance, in teaching and living, in remembering youth and growing old, and in traveling afar and being at home. To tell this beautifully evocative story of place, Taylor combines fiction and fact and travels down rural county roads and old downtowns with her camera, photographing what she has seen and savored over two decades of living here in Maryland's mother county. She has a gift for photography, reminiscent of the photographers of the New Deal. Enlivening her images is her written narrative, penned as if she is "listening in" to conversations people from all walks of life had with themselves or with friends and family, all of which she imagines. The result is a book that is a pleasure to read but, just as important, one that inspires the reader to look anew at what may seem to be commonplace in the St. Mary's landscape and to venture forth into one's own imagination and to join Taylor in "listening in."
—George W. McDaniel, Ph.D., author of Hearth and Home: Preserving a People's Culture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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