The Corpse Flower

New and Selected Poems

Bruce Beasley

  • Published: 2007
  • Subject Listing: Literature / Poetry
  • Bibliographic information: 224 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Series: Pacific Northwest Poetry Series
  • Contents

The Corpse Flower brings works from Bruce Beasley's first four award-winning collections together with twenty-five new poems, organizing them around the metaphor that gives the book its title: an enormous tropical bloom that reeks like carrion, and around whose three-day florescence "dung beetles and flies and sweat bees swarm / . . . pollen gummed all over / their furred feet." The corpse flower serves as a figure for Beasley's coming to terms with birth and death, fecundity and decay, the illusion of death, and the flourishing of the rare and beautiful out of the materials of the decayed.

The Corpse Flower traces a spiritual pilgrimage, weaving autobiography into a larger meditation on the materials of language and of the life of the spirit. Beasley's is a deeply physical spirituality - as he writes in one poem, "the soul's / impossible to tell / from the objects of its appetite." Throughout these poems, family mythology, as well as religious and mythic narrative and iconography, become occasions for extraordinary meditations on the physicality of birth and death, beginnings and endings. This substantial selection of Bruce Beasley's work, written over a twenty year period, offers the opportunity to experience, page by page, a poet's evolution, and to follow a unique, creative mind as it reaches, through interrogations of faith, science, and art, toward some form of resolution - a resolution increasingly represented by the beauties of language itself.

On Summer Mystagogia

"These brilliant poems, often both mythic and demotic, powerfully initiate the reader into a world at once marred and yet suffused by the signs and wonders of an 'irresistible grace.' . . . A wonderfully resilient and hard-won poetry of witness." -Boston Review
Bruce Beasley is professor of English at Western Washington University in Bellingham. He is the author of five previous books including Spirituals and Signs and Abominations. Among his awards and honors are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Artist Trust, two Pushcart Prizes, the 1996 Colorado Prize (chosen by Charles Wright) for Summer Mystagogia, the Ohio State University Press / Journal Award for The Creation, and the Contemporary Poetry Series Award from the University of Georgia Press for Lord Brain.On Summer Mystagogia
from Spirituals (1988), The Creation (1994), and Summer Mystagogia


The Creation of Eve
Eve, Learning to Speak
Indian Summer
The Instrument and Proper Corps of the Soule
At Easter
The Reliquary
The Cursing of the Fig Tree
Eurydice in Hades
Sweet Repeaters
Summer Mystagogia
Ugly Ohio
Idaho Compline
Arcana Mundi
Advent: Snow Incantation
The Monologue of the Signified
from A Mythic History of Alcoholism
After an Adoration
Sleeping in Santo Spirito
A Dogwood Tree in a Country Graveyard, at Easter
Before Thanksgiving
Going Home to Georgia
The Conceiving

from Signs and Abominations

What Did You Come to See

Negatives of O'Connor and Serrano
Hermetic Diary
Hermetic Self-Portrait
Mutating Villanelle
Errata Mystagogia
from Spiritual Alphabet in Midsummer
from The Mosntrum Fugue

The Corpse Flower: New Poems (2006)

The Corpse Flower

Not Light nor Life nor Love nor Nature nor Spirit nor Seblance
nor Anthing We Can Put into Words
And Go into the Street Which Is Called Straight
The Craps Hymnal
Lord's Prayer
The Vanishing Point

About the Poet

"Surprisingly moving and personal. . . . nuanced, playful, almost brutally frank, the early poems establish Beasley as a poet to be watched, and now the reader watches as they move-surely, inexorably-toward their metamorphosis. . . . A quick dip into the content reveals something else: an energy so compressed it is ready to spring forth, transforming itself in the process. Story and song and query and lung breathe at the core of these poems; they are exhaled- physically- as the (nearly) visible product of a mind ceaselessly roaming at the corridors of meaning, restlessly pacing the halls of experience, hacking away at convention and correlation, fiercely flying in the face of tradition. And to what end? To make, as he has, an amalgam of flesh and spirit, profanity and profundity, of such equal parts that it is impossible to distinguish the ordinary from the astonishing."
-Georgia Review

"Bruce Beasley is not quite like anyone else, and his progress has been dazzling to follow, one of the most satisfying growths into a major poetic presence . . . I have witnessed. . . . [His] ability to transubstantiate pain and loss into spiritual wonder is not to be missed."

"Bruce Beasley has crafted a piece of supreme symmetry. . . . Signs and Abominations is the present and future of poetic, theoretical thought; it is indeed the best road map yet for divining the mysterious relationship between the human and ethereal energies."
-Contemporary Poetry Review

"Startling, original . . . the monstrous and the divine flee from and chase one another throughout this fugal, challenging new book by one of our most stylistically and thematically intrepid young poets."
-Virginia Quarterly Review

"In poem after poem in this book . . . the effect is stunning. [This] is an important first book by an extremely talented young poet, a gift to us all."
-Quarterly West

"Spirituals is a book of apprenticeship in which one can see the potential for genius in the retelling of the old stories."
-Mark Jarman, Hudson Review

"Bruce Beasley is a refreshingly physical poet. . . . [He] has a good ear, essential to a poet, and sometimes his music is superb, almost as good as Yeats. . . . Beasley transforms longing into the ground of faith itself."
-Kathleen Norris, Books and Religion