Book a Week: I Was the Jukebox, by Sandra Beasley

OK, so it’s been about a month rather than a week since my last Book a Week post. What can I say, it’s summer.

Sandra Beasley first came to my attention because of the awesome title of her blog, Chicks Dig Poetry. Isn’t that great? I discovered her right around the time her memoir, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales From an Allergic Life, was due to be released. One of the things I love about Beasley is that she refuses to limit herself to writing in only one genre or format. Besides poetry, memoir, and blogs, she also pens essays and magazine articles. And she’s astute about how to use social media to promote herself without coming off as pushy or conceited. And she’s generous to other writers. Sandra Beasley, you are my career-building idol. (Except for all the travelling, that is. I’m much more the homebody.)

What I love most about the poems in I Was the Jukebox is their tightness, their form. I’m a great admirer of a well-crafted poem, one that doesn’t simply spring forth from inspiration but is pulled apart and put back together again, maybe many times over, before the poet calls it done. After technique, I like Beasley’s imagery. Like this, from the poem “Plenty:” “News crews from Florida showed children / paddling helplessly among the oranges, / looking for a place to stand.”

I’d like my own poems to be as tight as Beasley’s, though sometimes her cleverness kept me at a distance. But maybe that’s just my looking for other’s hearts on their sleeves, where I tend to wear mine. I recognize a fair amount of angst in my own poetry. It will be interesting to see if that changes as my poetic skills develop.

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