Monday, June 25, 2018

Theories of Falling (New Issues Poetry & Prose) Paperback – April 1, 2008 by Sandra Beasley (New Issues Poetry & Prose)

It is always exciting when you come across a first book by a poet who combines masterful precision of language (as opposed to mere facility) with an idiosyncratic and persuasive viewpoint. Sandra Beasley's "Theories of Falling" is just such a debut. From her earliest infancy, Beasley had the fragility and uncertainty of life brought home to her, as her amazing "Allergy Girl" sequence of poems demonstrates:

Peanuts tumbled by, harmless. But a cashew--
that fit into the open crescent, there, its immune
goblin hole. My antibodies had their plastic red

histamine hammers ready--smack smack
smack--skin of my forearms, chin, chest
rippling by with each little blow--

they were just doing their job.

Beasley's poems reach into the darkest realms of experience, encompassing familial and romantic dysfunction, violence and death. (Of an acquaintance who died in the Iraq war, she writes, "History//is a hand folding over you,/a magician stealing the coin.") Yet her poetic outlook is one of clear-eyed, tough-minded optimism. As we find ourselves--literally or figuratively--trapped in a falling elevator as in this collection's title poem, we can only note the wisdom of her final exhortation: "Jump, for God's sake./Jump like your life depends on it."

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