Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book announced that Dan Beachy-Quick is a finalist for the Colorado Book Awards in Poetry for his latest work (gentlessness). A synopsis from his publisher, Tupelo Press, explains the book this way:
Describing his new book as “an intimate primer to a history of literary epochs,” Dan Beachy-Quick summons his belief that tradition and experiment are mutually embracing, and his curiosity about humble forms of song and rhyme as figures of enchantment that induce the most primal modes of perception. gentlessness is the work of a poetic archaeologist who finds relict layers of meaning still alive in traditional measures and forms.
gentlessness is a word
to describe that
which must deny itself
~from (gentlessness), by Dan Beachy-Quick
Fellow poet Mary Szybist (who came to CSU and gave a reading in Fall 2015) says of the book, “By means both gentle and less than gentle, these poems make space for us to consider our ideas of ourselves, of the divine, of our cultural and literary inheritances, and the language we use to create and hold them… Uncannily beautiful.” Another fellow poet Jean Valentine says, “These are lines to be read in all the stillness you can find.”
A starred review of (gentlessness) from Publisher’s Weekly says,
Beachy-Quick’s understated humor, intelligence, and regard for big ideas shine through the whole of Western poetic history, shaped by his postmodern (and occasionally ironic and self-deprecating) voice. Such an accomplishment is rarely achieved with this much grace. (http://publishersweekly.com/978-1-936797-57-8)
In a review on Rain Taxi, M. Lock Swingen says of (gentlessness),
Beachy-Quick moves from one literary period to another, resurrecting voices, melodies, tropes, and obsessions in sections whose titles map distinct literary periods: “a short treatise on the nature of the gods,” “heroisms,” “puritanisms,” “romanticisms,” and “modernisms.”
Beachy-Quick’s poetry embodies what Emerson once reminded us—namely, that “every word was once a poem.” gentlessness searches for the source of language, that poem in every word, in a time when our aesthetic mainstream maintains a constant distancing from the wellspring of art. (http://www.raintaxi.com/gentlessness/)
We recently asked Associate Professor Beachy-Quick some questions about (gentlessness) – its origins, his process, and being selected as a finalist for the Colorado Book Awards.
Where did this book “come from”? (What are its origins, what compelled you to write it, what was the process for you as the writer).
I began the first long poem that began the book (not that I knew then it would be a book) in the spring of 2010. I felt some dismay at the way in which “experimental” and “traditional” poetic modes had become opposed to one another, the ease of writing in a certain manner to be perceived in a certain way, and I very much wanted to disrupt those assumptions. So I turned back to poetic forms often dismissed by experimental poetry – pastoral, song, rhyme, meter – to fuse together intellectual inquiry with the sensuous feeling embedded in poetry’s history. I guess I wanted to show that nothing need be abandoned, and that poetry’s traditional resources still speak with value and meaning in our postmodern lives.
What do you want readers to know about this book? How would you describe it to them?
There’s nothing I’d want a reader to know. I just hope, should someone read it, that it offers those real pleasures poetry can – doubt and wonder, feeling and thought, a sense of finding company in places where one often feels isolated, the mind and heart. To describe it – it’s something of an idiosyncratic literary history, moving in the first poem from a kind of first philosophy, through hero myths, Puritan confessions, Transcendentalism, Romanticism, to Modernism, using themes and tropes from each epoch to sing these poems’ own curious song.
Can you say something about being selected as a finalist, and being a former winner of a Colorado Book Award?
There’s truly tremendous poetry being written in Colorado, and I feel humbled and happy to be included in that group, both in general ways, and in being a finalist for the award.
Poet, essayist, critic, and teacher Dan Beachy-Quick was born in Chicago and raised in Colorado and upstate New York. He is the author of six full length collections of poems, two collections of essays, and two collaborative texts. His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in numerous journals. He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Residency, the Colorado Book award in Poetry (for Circle’s Apprentice in 2011), The William Carlos Williams Award, and the PEN/USA Literary Award in Poetry. He was awarded a Monfort Professorship at CSU in 2013, the first ever from the Humanities. He was educated at Hamilton College, the University of Denver, and the University of Iowa. He has taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is now an Associate Professor at Colorado State University, living in Fort Collins, Colorado with his family.