Beam, Jeffery. “The New Beautiful Tendons: Collected Queer Poems, 1969-2012”, Triton Books, 2012.
43 Years of Queer Poetry
Four years ago I reviewed a book with a similar title as this by the same author but then it was a volume of uncollected queer poetry and it stopped at 2007. Now Jeffery Beam has updated his book and gives us 43 years of his lush and beautiful poetry. Beam has the ability to be lyrical and dramatic, metaphysical and sensual—the very same words I used in my original review. Beam characterizes himself as “a Queer poet, child-like, saintly, sees the Kingdom of Heaven in every leaf, every drop of blood spilled, every meal, every automobile, every homeless person’s cardboard box, every bright mansion, and every bird song. The Queer-spirit sees All-in-All in every act of love”. With a self-description like this, it is easy to see how Beam can write so beautifully.
If I had to choose a poet who brought queer poetry to literature in would have to be Jeffery Beam and he is the first gay poet I ever reviewed and always has remained on the top of my list when I am asked to recommend a contemporary gay poet. His words speak to me directly and I stand amazed at how he is able to bring the erotic and the tender together. He writes with a grace that we do not often see in queer literature and his themes of desire, contemplation, passion and love are handled delicately as only a poet can do. He gives us a gift of love and spirituality and we do not owe him anything in return aside from reading his work. There are ways of saying things poetically and these are based on the experience of the author and while something may be quite dear to him, it might not mean anything to us, right? This is not the case with Jeffery Beam—every word he writes is to be shared and while you may feel like you are a voyeur that is what Beam wants. What we think is extremely personal Beam shares with us and I am so proud to be listed on the thanks page and quoted in a blurb. Let me clarify something here—I do not know Jeffery Beam personally; we have never met but I remember when I received the original “Beautiful Tendons”, I felt I had received a wonderful gift from a new friend. Beam and I have exchanged short emails over the last few years and even though we have never physically seen each other, there is feeling in the notes that are sent back and forth (and no, that is not the reason I am giving him a rave review—I am doing so because he is an excellent, wonderful poet).
Beam has added some new poems to the other collection which brings us to 215 poems and poem sequences as well as line drawings and three pastel portraits by North Carolinian artist Sue Anderson and previously unseen photographs by Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden and other special treats. There is also a new introduction by Beam himself. Now stop reading this review and get yourself a copy of “The New Beautiful Tendons”, have a drink, sit down, relax, read and feel Beam’s words. (Can you tell how much I love this man’s work?). However, before I let you go read what others have to say about Beam:
“Poetry is an enrapturing process that intensifies the discovery of experience and only what arises out of this urgency produces utterance that is distinctive and honest. Here in these sinewy acts shine the mobilities of praise, the delight in the body’s beauty and its surprises, the wonder of beholding energy and love. The poems are glimpses of sensual epiphanies, lightning flashes on the dramatic heart of event, memories from the crux of dream. Here are secrets that lie within the adventures of desire. Pursue them, and participate in the pleasure”. —James Broughton
“Jeffery Beam’s The Beautiful Tendons proves what many of us have known for some time: he is one of our most important and valuable poets. No matter what he touches on, it is always observed with Beam’s precise and careful eye in spare, direct language that’s as fresh as a sunrise and the sweet air of morning. Read these poems and brighten your day. I guarantee it”. —Michael Rumaker
“All children should hear you, the universe glistening. The spirit of poetry and nature and Eros are carried forth into and for the future. You are one of the poets I feel closest to — kindred spirit in love with the natural world and kindred spirit of awe and affection to our own kind. Feather to feather, wing to wing”. —Antler
“These juicy poems, at the intersection of spirituality and sexuality, leave me breathless with their erotic thrust”.–Edward Field