Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Visible Beam

KALMIA

From the laurel thicket
the rush of water below
sounds

stone drums &
their echoes

***

Poet Jeffery Beam is about to have a special day on Friday. It has to do with his poems but also with his pictures and travels. The picture above, "Mossaic," is his.

More about that below!

***
OMEGA
For Z is zest
--Christopher Smart

Take the zig-zag
walk, for instance.

If something was first,
it just had to be last.

In all directions and
no directions it goes,

As the last step is
the first

into Eden.

***

Out of my whole library, I think my favorite book inscription is the one in Jeffery Beam's The Fountain, where he wrote a little song-like thing to me and said that my characters "breathe the natural world like spirit water." Isn't that lovely?

Jeffery is a soul-awakener, a boy dryad, an aesthete of beauty and nature. It is easy to feel kindred to him because he wakes up a part of one that often drifts off to sleep.

***

PASTORAL

I should have some seedlings
tomorrow
some columbine fit for a king's
chamber--
the clamoring stream side
by the garden
where we'll lie

Not enough for cutting now but
come Spring
all swell & bell will
break loose.

***

One of my favorite memories of Chapel Hill is going to Jeffery's wonderful winter solstice and Christmas celebration at Wilson Library. It was perfectly magical, with poems, and stories and surprises. My older children still have a few moon drops, somewhere--on a windowsill, or in the bottom of a toy box, shining quietly like Pandora's hope.

Here you may read a poem by Jeff and see where we plan to stay when visiting France.

And here you may see Jeffery Beam looking like a woods sprite and also read a tiny poem or hop to his web site.

&

Here you may find a fairly up-to-date list of his books and recordings. If you would like to purchase one but haven't been able to find it, try the Bull's Head Bookshop.
(919) 962-5060
CB 1530. Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1530
bullshead@store.unc.edu

***

HELLEBORE

With arms of
green & rosy blossoms
my blameless love
comes.

Blessed by cows &
sorcerer's spittle,
I pass
through the air, dark,
leaf-shining,
invisible.

***

Another place to see some of Jeffery's poems is at The North Carolina Arts Council. Scroll down!

Here's a quote from the arts council site: "Jeffery Beam's forte is the natural world; his poems present the wondrous idea that humankind is an intrinsic part of nature rather than an observer. He understands that in the natural world, 'Death & Being exchange vows' forever. His poems, coiling and uncoiling, put prickles on the back of my neck." -- Janet Lembke

***

FOR LORINE NIEDECKER

Green and
bronze
Galax
in a blue Cole vase.

Outside snow
Somewhere war

In between
peace
A full life

Alas, I can't get the html to obey on the spacing right on that one... Lines 2 and 3 are staggered from the left margin, as is "peace."

***

THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN & HELL

Pandora, the box smokes. No common form
mentioned by its shape.
I cannot shift my eye far from its glare.
I sense neither sound nor glimpses of desired hue.
Black the brilliant shadows sleek.
Before night falls nothing will quiet me.
Devils. I break from you my private trembling.
When I walk my shadow will attach to me.
No formless box opens to clamp shut
unless the shutting figures me its Light-giver.
I illuminate and turn Spirit
upon itself. A healed wing.
So, I stand suddenly embracing you.
Where swarm bees imperishable.
From all blackness I gather myself.

***

A show of Jeff's poems and photographs begins on Friday. I wish I could be there for the poetry reading and reception. Since I can't, here is the gallery's description:

Viewing Jeffery Beam's "Daedalus Landed Here: Poetic Views - Earthy Travels" is a little like taking a crash course in art, creative writing, European history,and the wisdom of the ancients, except classes were never this interesting. Pairing beautiful photographs with exquisite poems and narratives rich with historical and personal feelings, Beam guides us through 30 years of travels in Italy and France- through ancient towns, gardens, churches, and countryside. Viewed together, they recount a story--each photograph unique and significant about that place; that moment in time.

Beam has frequently collaborated with other artists in his works, but this timehe collaborates with himself. An accomplished Hillsborough-based writer, he has turned to re-visioning with the camera's eye what his soul translates through his pen. In this case, the subject is his travel. He explains, "Steven Forrest, the astrologer, once told me in a reading that my work and my spiritual development would grow most through travel. His perception has proven true, and although I don't get to travel much, when I do, I take it as an opportunity to absorb as much scholarship and visual inspiration as I can."

Born and raised in Kannapolis, Beam works as the Assistant to the Biology Librarian in the Botany Library at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has published over 12 books and recordings and received numerous awards for his work, including three American Library Association Notable Book nominations, an IPPY small press book award, a Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant, a Duke University Chronicle award, and a grant from the MaryDuke Biddle Foundation. His spoken word CD was a finalist for the only national-scope audio awards, a 2003 Audie. Beam is also the poetry editor for Oyster Boy Review and a contributing editor to Arabesques Review. You can read more about his work, read some poems, and hear a poetry reading at his web site: http://www.unc.edu/~jeffbeam/index.html

Through This Lens
303 E. Chapel Hill St.
Durham, NC 27701
919.687.0250

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing our dear Jeffery with all the world! I won't be there for the opening, but I WILL see the work, somehow, some way.

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  2. Jeffery Beam has mad poetry skillz!

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  3. Hey nonny nonny, etc.: the lovely Mr. Beam (not to be confused with Mr. Bean) is very popular, I note by Palace email and by the official (bean) counter. And that despite a Blogger crash...

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  4. Lovely poems - very evocative - takes me into some magical childhood place. Hope the event goes well. It sounds wonderful in the truest sense.

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  5. How did the event go? The poems are intriguing and the photo beautiful.

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  6. As I was 900 miles away and have no 7-league boots, I can't quite say. I imagine "swell," aside from the poet-photographer-traveler's bear of a cold (little green men dancing in his head), acquired in Ireland. But shall ask for a report.

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  7. Thanks to all who responded to Marly's generous feature on my poetry. My reading on Sunday and the opening of my photography show was a great success. I had a large enthusiastic audience and sold some photos and there are more inquiries coming in. Thanks to all for your kind comments about my poems.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.