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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.
But at its heart, For Lack of Diamond Years is a quixotic narration between realms of being - from the quotidian into the sometimes numinous, sometimes murky realm of the unknown/unknown, and on into a kind of revamped transcendental. There is a thread of praise that runs throughout—an embrace of the joys and sorrows of thinking and feeling, of love and loss.
For more poetry information, please visit www.cbeasley-baker.com
For more visual art information, please visit www.carolinebeasley-baker.com
“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.”
“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.”
vibrant, cut-shining poems
“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.”
“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. The poet herself invokes Hopkins in both her envoi and in the titles of her poems; each title contains a caesura in the form of a slash (e.g. “sea-shanty/iceland”). This is not to say that Beasley-Baker is merely imitating Hopkins. Rather, she has embraced his sprung rhythm and then altered it to produce a voice and meter that are purely her own. There is a resonance to her work, and a recognition that the everyday contains within it the possibility of transcendence, of enlightenment, of change…”
Wendy Galgan, Bibliotekos
“[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.
…It’s really very rare, for a visual artist to so completely translate or, more precisely, transcribe her visual sense into words. For this reason, for me, Beasley-Baker's poems are a significant achievement”
Robert J. Mahoney, The The Poetry
“The poet has a keen sense of how to evoke emotion through each of the senses, filling all seventy-seven poems with rich, vivid imagery and language. Though the poems are all short, they are packed with substance. One could read through the book in several minutes, yet each poem begs to be pored over multiple times. There is a certain playful juxtaposition surrounding Beasley-Baker's poetry. One poem about longing is painted with citrine and silver; ruby red, dayglo blush, and cornflower blue decorate a lowly concubine in another. The chaos of the universe in the poem ‘yang/black hole among circle & flow’ is juxtaposed against the child's nursery rhyme ‘Row, Row, Row, Your Boat,’ invoked by memory. Uncovering meanings and idiosyncrasiesis a pleasure, and upon each re-reading new gems are discovered. Young adults will enjoy the philosophical questions asked within the poems, as this technique encourages open-ended thought and conversation, a nonrestrictive form that can be easily appreciated. Lovers of poetry will delight in 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.”
Lindsay Grattan, Voices of Young Adults (VOYA)
CAROLINE BEASLEY-BAKER is a poet and visual artist who learned to recite her first poem, a traditional Scottish song, when she was 18-months old sitting on a barstool next to a gorgeous gloved and hatted woman in a family bar in downtown Kansas City, MO . . . "I am a poor little orphan, my mommy is dead, my daddy's a drunkard . . ."
Her poems have recently appeared online and in print in Qarrtsiluni, MungBeing Magazine, MOBIUS /The Poetry Magazine, The MOM Egg, La Fovea and volumes 5, 6, 7 of the Brevitas Festival Review of the Short Poem. Meritage Press published two chain poems done with writer/poet Holly Anderson and singer/songwriter Lisa B. Burns in The Chained Hay(na)Ku Project anthology, 2010.
She frequently uses words/poems in her visual work for which she has received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in painting and a National Endowment for the Arts in Collaborative Work.