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.
I’ve not been up to much, comedy-wise, in a very, very, very long time. If that’s why you’re here, I apologize. My time these days is mostly spent writing and reading little poems to people. For example, the video below is from when I got to read my poem “Requiem for a Revenant (in Memory of John Fahey)” at the 4th annual Great Twin Cities Poetry Read last April at Hamline University in St. Paul.
I ramble on at the start about John Fahey, but his music and writing mean a lot to me. Just play it. Thanks.
I recently started publishing photos at the literary website Midwestern Gothic. I realize I’m no Ansel Adams, but I’m happy-ish with how the four below turned out. They were snapped during treks through the woods with the girlfriend and our dog. Until I can get some new words out, it’s nice to have a new publishing venue. Of course, as soon as I know if I have a show in this summer’s Minnesota Fringe Festival, I’ll know if I have a future as a hack nature photographer or if this was just phase to go through between stories and poems.