in praise of FOR LACK OF DIAMOND YEARS
These poems are extraordinary. Caroline Beasley-Baker's voice is unique, and strong, and like no other poet I know. She is the real deal, as they say — everything works, even the ravishingly brilliant ways that the poems appear on the page. For some reason, I keep thinking of Leonard Cohen's lines, 'There's a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in.'
. . . vibrant, cut-shining poems . . .
I love these poems . . . stream-of-consciousness visionary poems, not only in the tradition of Hopkins, but also John Berryman. I love the imagery, the metaphorical leaps, the range and tensions of perspective, often within the same line or two, and the way love/passion, or the need for this is always somehow present, even, like an underground river, when it isn't seen.
" . . . In Caroline Beasley-Baker’s 'For Lack of Diamond Years,' the spirit of Gerard Manley Hopkins presides over a series of short poems and mesostics that are both luminous and fiercely original."
Caroline Beasley-Baker is her voice, working the faults and facets like a jeweler, but with language. She makes parallels collide, no easy trick that.
FOR LACK OF DIAMOND YEARS is pitch perfect, deeply felt yet not sentimental, an absolutely true-blue and richly unadorned dance with the language. Then there's the deft delineation of airy space within the poems—much like small songbirds hopping to flight after feeding. There isn't a dash here to be altered. A deep pleasure on the page.
[Beasley-Baker's] poetry digs even deeper, it strikes me as what art historians are now calling sfogo (Italian for steam), the little musings to oneself that accompanies the making of a work of art; a kind of nonstop texting-below-texting that the mind in metacognitive itch continues on with as it will. Not the lecturey talkback run-on that keeps one from getting to sleep, but the dream-phrasings that incant over walks in the cold or in the dark—or being in the flow of making art.
Robert J. Mahoney/The The Poetry
Lovers of poetry will delight in Caroline Beasley-Baker’s unique style and vision. With pushing, those with a poetry aversion may be won over for no other reason than to revel in the manipulation of words on the page.
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FOR LACK OF DIAMOND YEARS is an idiosyncratic collection of short poems—most under 20 lines—where questions lead the way. The poems are a mixed set of free verse, unabashed counting forms like the Hay(na)ku and the Elfchen, and a very minimalist version of John Cage's mesostic form, along with a small number of poems based on colors, and a few that steal freely from traditional American songs.
There is a thread of praise that runs throughout—an embrace of the joys and sorrows of thinking and feeling, of love and loss—quotidian/numinous/the-revamped-transcendental.
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