by Dan Beachy-Quick
“Beachy-Quick’s finely spun and intricately woven lyrics mesh consciousness with sensuousness and achieve a literary photosynthesis. Trees are spokes in the wheels of traveling meditations on the transformations and cycles of life.” –The Booklist
Mulberry is Dan Beachy-Quick’s dazzling third collection of poetry, and in it he further solidifies his place as one of our most important experimental—yet entirely lyrical—poets. The work of a still-rising star, here the experiment is almost otherworldly: see and hear the poet as silkworm, weaving meditations on nature, art, history, philosophy, and the self. Here is a layered, intricately voiced and utterly assured poet who, with magnifying glass in one hand and telescope in the other, shows us the way to something new and delightful with every reading.
“The American soul’s most necessary and demanding purpose now is the unsettling of its own wilderness, inside and out. Those who cherish that purpose, those keen to live and to worship in the present tense again, will find good helps and comradeship here in Mulberry. Dan Beachy-Quick, having accomplished the articulateness of stars and blossoms, of stars IN blossom, is perhaps our most living poet now.” —Donald Revell
“For anyone who thinks that Postmodern poetry represents a complete break from that of the Romantics, Dan Beachy-Quick’s Mulberry will come as a revelation… This is a wondrous book.”—Lyn Hejinian
I said no prayers, but had milk…
I said no prayers, but had milk
For breakfast. A white page
Bound between black covers—
That secret page is thick cream
Before confession curdles the blank
Day dark with ink. Such eclipse
At noon will outlive noon; does;
Undays the heart and heat of day.
I record it here. Veins dark and hot.
My heart in bright eclipse, filled
With ink my red lips blush more
Red at word unsaid, words I will
Not say, but—darkly—I must write.
I said no prayers, but… I rose
Early. The rose open before the day;
Found beetle in rose; “let it feast”
I thought; let it stay. I danced
My dance. The White Plum in blossom
Walks its scent through the willing
Air—I breathed in the whole bride
Whose white bud will purple later
Into plum; I’ll bite. I do. I often bite.
The White-Throat in the flowering
Bush flits and sings; I see it
With my ears. I danced my dance.
My wife’s white throat in bloom
Above her purple dress. She cast
Her eyes sky-ward when she saw
The look in my eye this afternoon.
“Did you practice your Hebrew?”
She asked. “I spoke a page.” The blank
Day bound between the black cover:
Night gone and night so soon to be.
The White-Throat flew out the bush
When I neared; a blossom knocked
From stem by flight. I picked it up.
An inchworm on silk angled on breeze
That through the plum tree breathed.
I let the green inch alone to eat my leaf.
I walked in the garden till ten
And then committed uncleanness.
I said my prayers.
dawns on this road so late tonight…
dawns on this road so late tonight
that pulse // the deer wander
spellbound in the un
fingers on her lips and
when my hand
those green discs
afloat in the night are their eyes
becoming night // do you hear?
in the mouth of burial
her white wrists
are wood for furnace
and breath again // infinite
I thought the moon was full
in the mouth of
this urn I urn
to hold light
between her hands // glean
a wall so ash
our hands in marriage
my hand cupped in urn
is cottage, too // the owl in hollow
bone below so ash
my thumb your lips
not love what’s not
clothed in morning
her lips final // mine
caught in lantern light // can it be
I believe I could love
word and bone and urn
open her so
with light // a pulse
wakes the forest and the forest glows
because I am too
tired to say no
window my wife
open her so
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Free Verse recently reviewed Mulberry. The opening paragraph of this review concludes:
“… Beachy-Quick strikingly remodels the poet’s traditional visionary relationship to the natural world, seeking new content and expressive possibility for poetic exploration of history and nature, of feeling and imagination, of socialization and passion—how each of these inform individual experience and finally make each of us aware of others and accountable to them. Mulberry is a significant instance of a contemporary poet confronting nature, but doing so as a realm of connective moral and emotional awareness rather than ennobled savagery.” More of this deeply analytical and extraordinarily complimentary review can be read at the Free Verse website
Jacket on-line magazine has just published an astonishing and profoundly in-depth review of Dan Beachy-Quick’s Mulberry. Tim Kahl starts out by saying; “Dan Beachy-Quick’s Mulberry weaves an intricate web of lyrical quasi-Dickinsonian fragments together in a manner that is reminiscent of a silkworm eating a mulberry leaf and, from its mouth, spinning a web from a single thread. This is the silkworm’s cocoon that eventually transforms the silkworm into a winged creature. The metaphors for the poet and the spoken word/text are apparent.” You can read the rest of this monumental review right now.
From the United Kingdom, Andy Brown of Stride Magazine has written a complimentary review which includes these lines: “Dan Beachy-Quick’s Mulberry is a beautifully produced volume of poems, firmly in a lyric tradition, yet very much in the ‘linguistically innovative’ field. This is finely wrought, meditative stuff, continually surprising, beautifully constructed.” High praise indeed.
Doris Lynch, writing for Library Journal, recommends Dan Beachy-Quick’s Mulberry to most libraries. “Readers will not be able to skim; much of the power of these poems resides in what they suggest rather than in what they spell out. Nature is a common thread, with each poem revealing a masterly painter’s eye for visual details.” The complete review can be read here.
The Publishers Weekly review of Mulberry starts off by saying: “The prolific Beachy-Quick (Spell, 2004) returns to the familiar lyric territory of his arresting debut in this challenging third book: the intensifying, fragmenting and distorting powers of language as it relates self to world.”
The Booklist review of Mulberry reads like poetry: “Beachy-Quick’s finely spun and intricately woven lyrics mesh consciousness with sensuousness and achieve a literary photosynthesis. Trees are spokes in the wheels of traveling meditations on the transformations and cycles of life.” The rest of this delicious stanza can be read on this page.
The Midwest Book Review has posted the following review: “Mulberry is the third collection of poetry by writing teacher Dan Beachy-Quick. Metaphor, repetitive rhythm, and a common theme of searching for the Infinite by scrutinizing the world, whether with a magnifying glass or a telescope, characterize the original contemplations of Mulberry. A moody journey uncovering one timeless, albeit minute, secret after another. “Mulberry”: earthliness is my book multi / leaved and electric the wires / spark weaker than no sun / sets as it rises the sun / sets as it rises on the lip of / a leaf what my mouth / builds dark I will build darker: // white new moon / of fingernail’s edge or bright noon of tooth / where I stand where I came to stand / where I stood and had stood / longer than my life the tree leaned / over the broken