April 2, 2024

Michael Tager


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Michael Tager ’02: Writer, Editor, Entrepreneur, Event Planner, Researcher, and Dad

Michael Tager’s latest work and first book – a full-length collection of poetry to be released in April 2024 – is described by publisher Akinoga Press in this way: “The poems within Pop Culture Poetry: The Definitive Collection explore our relationship with celebrity. They're about David Attenborough and 90’s hip-hop, Bjork, toxic masculinity, Patrick Swayze, The Golden Girls, nostalgia and vulnerability, Whoopi Goldberg, Justin Bieber, video games, and Queen. But they're also about the author, and also about you, and you (and yes, you in the back). They're funny, because Michael B. Tager is funny. But also, they're really not, because Tager is never actually joking.”

“This collection is written in the voice of David Attenborough, who does nature documentaries, and I matched it up with hip-hop poems about actor Taye Diggs,” Tager ’02 explains. “The short version is that I started writing poems to make myself laugh. I like traditional poetry quite a bit, but I was never interested in writing about the topics on which poets focus.”

Journey to YCP and Three Degrees

Tager grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. His journey to York College is “a cynical story,” he said.

“I was 17 and not a particularly good student. I wanted to go to a private liberal arts college, and I wanted to go away but not super far. York College was pretty reasonably priced, didn’t require an essay, and I knew my parents could swing it without financial aid. I also liked the campus and thought ‘this will work.’

“I am now quite glad I went to York. It was a really good decision.”

After graduating with a degree in English Language and Literature, Tager spent two years with AmeriCorps. He lived on the Denver, Colorado, campus of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and then worked for the New Hampshire Food Bank with Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA).

Through this work with nonprofits, Tager says he gained the skill set necessary to be hired as an events planner by the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH) at the University of Maryland Baltimore. In 2012, he earned another bachelor’s degree, this one in psychology, that led to a promotion and more research-based work. Tager also earned an MFA in creative writing and publishing arts during his time at NCSMH.

“I was a Secondary Education major at YCP until my first semester sophomore year, because I intended to be a high-school English teacher,” he said. “I got the grad degree thinking I was going to be a college professor; I taught two semesters and decided full-time teaching was not for me. The MFA was also because I wanted to be a writer.”

Tager remained at NCSMH for 11 years, finishing his tenure as a research coordinator who managed two statewide mental health research grants. In 2018, he took a fundraising position as an Advancement Database Coordinator at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Tager has continued his career in advancement research, and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Prospect Management and Data Analytics at Johns Hopkins University’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. “It’s about putting systems into place to help make things more efficient,” he said. “I like leaving places better than I found them.”

Writing, Editing, and More

Alongside his research work, Tager has been a writer, publisher, and editor.

In one of his many online biographies, he says, “I am widely published in literary journals, anthologies, scientific journals, and magazines, though I'm mostly an editor and publisher these days. I play hop scotch with genres and have written lit fiction, horror, poetry, journalism, listicles, personal essay, and others.

“In addition to my writing, I have edited dozens of books and anthologies in all capacities: an independent publisher, a literary citizen, and a freelancer. As Managing Editor of Mason Jar Press, I've shepherded 25 books into the world, with many more currently in development. This process includes reading and solicitation, months of editing, design and marketing. I'm incredibly proud of the work I've done and I absolutely love it. There's very little as rewarding as helping create a piece of art and putting it into the world. My job is the best.”

Tager has managed to live in both the research and creative worlds by carefully preserving brain power. “It is so important that at the end of the day I still have the capacity to do creative work,” he said.

He also shares parenting responsibilities for two boys (5 ½ years and 10 months) with his wife, who is a freelance editor/writer. And he has recently taken on yet another project, a freelance public relations business at, as well as putting together an independent writing conference called the “Nuts, Bolts and Networking Conference” ( with the UCLA-Extension Writers Program. 

How does he manage to fit all of this into a day?

“I am always tired, Tager said. “I stay up late and find time in the corners to get stuff done.”

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