2019 flew by and somehow I almost didn’t make an appearance here. Shame on me. Honestly, though, who’s surprised? (I may or may not have forgotten my site password.)
All you really need to know, I guess, is that my friends at Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library out in the California desert published a second collection of my smallish poems. This time it’s a batch of micro-tributes to poetic influences.
So I was writing and reading and publishing in 2019. Yet here I find myself at year end, begging your forgiveness. What more do you people (who don’t exist) want from me?
The latest book looks like this:
Borrowed Trouble is available for about the price of your favorite fancy coffee drink here.
When I posted here back in February I had no way of knowing the short poems and prose pieces I’d been writing would find themselves together in a new 74-page chapbook. But a late winter vacation to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, California, resulted in the fast, furious publication of Dust and Stars: Miniatures.
The desert is mysterious that way.
No, I still don’t post here, but I would hate for anybody to think I haven’t been writing.
I have a new micro-chapbook manuscript of miniature poems (10 lines or less) I’ve been shopping around to publishers, as well as a growing sequence of prose poems that have consistently left print and digital publication editors of all stripes duly unimpressed.
Louis Jenkins makes it look easy. Russell Edson, Christopher Kennedy and Daniel Grandbois, too.
Here’s one of my unimpressive prose poems in case you don’t believe me:
The former kings of high school slow dances stalk local grocery aisles late every Sunday night. Hobbled shopping carts are their partners in middle age. Fluorescent lights hum their lonely song.
Saturday, February 25th, I hosted a launch reading for Brazil, Indiana.
Four of my favorite Twin Cities poets read along with me at Flat Earth Brewing in St. Paul.
We sold some beer and some books to the 20+ folks in attendance.
Probably because I wore a tie.
I was thrilled to have two separate poetry collections accepted for publication in 2016.
Coyotes I Couldn’t See, a chapbook of unrelated lyrics, made it out last year thanks to the fine folks at Red Bird Chapbooks.
Brazil, Indiana, a book-length sequence and my full-length debut, appeared from Kelsay Books early this year.
It’s available directly from the press and online at Amazon.com.
Of course, I’m happy to sell you a copy, too.
Right now I’m working on a chapbook of short poems called Dust and Stars: Miniatures.
As a middle-aged writer and performer of what many would consider only middling success, I often wonder what keeps me going. So do a lot of other folks, I’m certain.
It’s clearly not been about landing a book deal with a New York publisher. Or booking gigs at the biggest Twin Cities venues. I’ve never really harbored typical ambitions.
Suggesting I’ve always been happy just following my muse will confuse people who think I’m never happy, but it’s a true statement. I’m happiest when I’m finding something new in the work I’m doing. Process often interests me more than finished product.
Realizing this goes a long way toward explaining my middling artistic achievements.
All of that said, I’ve had some pretty unique opportunities to show off my limited talents. I’m old enough that I’ve published in the pages of print journals and slick magazines, as well as in the digital pages of online lit sites. I’ve also had writing appear in public art projects and on public radio. I wrote and read poems at Saint Paul Saints home games during the 2015 season. I wrote and read a poem as part of 2014’s Minneapolis Mayoral inauguration.
I do a lot of readings for a guy without a full-length book to show for more than 25 years of writing and publishing in venues large and small.
Back when I performed comedy, I won an short spot opening for Louie Anderson one New Year’s Eve and earned magazine coverage for wearing a bear suit to share my jokes with baffled audiences.
I’ve produced a podcast and hosted a comedic museum tour.
Sometimes writing seems like the most pointless thing I could be doing with my life. Sometimes I think that’s exactly why I keep at it. How else would I experience the world?
My URL is a lie. So is my email address. I no longer live in Minneapolis. Let that revelation soak in for a minute. Then forgive me, if you’re able.
Life did what life does sometimes and I wound up resettling over in St. Paul, across the river from where I was living when I first planted my flag in digital terra firma.
Life in the Como neighborhood of Minnesota’s capital city has been pretty okay so far.
Not long after I moved, I learned that a St. Paul small press, Red Bird Chapbooks, would be publishing my poetry collection Coyotes I Couldn’t See sometime in 2016. (I’ll post more on that when the book’s available for purchase.) In the meantime, I recently completed work on another poetry manuscript — a 100-page sequence of semi-surreal, 12-line lyrics honoring the people and places of my small town Hoosier childhood.
Brazil, Indiana (a folk poem) is circulating among publishers as I type this. Excerpts have appeared in print and online publications in the U.S., Ireland and Scotland. The Moth, a favorite Irish mag of mine, published six excerpts in a recent issue, even though they didn’t include my name on their cover:
If you happen to be a publisher interested in quirky poems about quirky folks, maybe you should get in touch with me. I know a guy with a book.
I’ve never really taken to updating this site with any regularity. That will probably never change. Now that I no longer perform comedy and seem to be publishing new poems at a more reasonable snail’s pace than I was back in 2013, it doesn’t make much sense to bother the Internet with what I’m up to.
I’m still writing poems and ditties. The new news, if there is any, is that I recently invested in a new guitar.
I never really saw myself owning a Martin, because I never saw myself as the kind of player who deserved one. But I got a deal. And I’ve got to tell you that an instrument this well-crafted makes me want to raise my game in the fingerpicking ditty department. Which is news, because I’ve never been a big fan of self-improvement.
Which also reminds me, I have given a few readings lately. Poetry, of course. But also a series of monologues written for a collaboration with photographer Craig VanDerSchaegen. He put photos into a software program that translated them into soundscapes, over which I read my writing. We debuted it at Small Art‘s Spring Fling.
I’m always happy to find interesting new venues for my work. Hint, hint.
For the right venue, I’d even write a new joke or two. Hell, I trimmed my beard. What else have I got to lose?
As my 44th year on this giant rock winds down, it seems a fitting time to finally publish some of my real, literary-ish poems between two covers with my name on the front. (The “poems” in DUCK! don’t count.)
Well, good news. Ravenna Press just added a selection of my poems to its lovely Artefakta Pamphlet Series.
Earliest Bird Calls includes earlier drafts of poems that found their way into my full-lengh debut manuscript, Coyotes I Couldn’t See, as well as poems available nowhere else.
The entire series is worth checking out, if you ask me — important literary stylists doing interesting work. You don’t find that in the pages of many magazines these days. And who doesn’t want to support small presses?
What else can I tell you? My pamphlet is also a bargain at just $2.50 (or $4.00, including shipping). If you’re a Brian Beatty completist, get yours today.
I’ve been posting even less than usual because I’ve been busy working on poems that might make a book. While my work continues to underwhelm the gatekeepers of university-affiliated lit journals, I’ve been able to get my poems published without their approval.
In 2014, I’ve had two poems in the summer and fall issues of The Bark, my favorite dog magazine.
I’ve had great good luck internationally, too, with poems accepted for publication in magazines and anthologies in Australia, Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and Scotland.
Right now the book I’m trying to build from all of these poems is titled Coyotes I Couldn’t See. Wonder how long that will last.