Sandra Beasley
December 2014


[image Sandra Beasley] Sandra Beasley is the author of three poetry collections: Count the Waves, forthcoming from W. W. Norton in 2015; I Was the Jukebox, winner of the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize judged by Joy Harjo; and Theories of Falling, winner of the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize judged by Marie Howe. Her latest book is Donít Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life (2011), a memoir and cultural history of food allergy. Honors include the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize, distinguished writer residencies at Cornell College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, the University of Mississippi, two DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowships, and the Maureen Egen Exchange Award from Poets & Writers. Her prose has appeared in such venues as the New York Times, Washington Post Magazine, and The Oxford American. She lives in Washington, D.C., and teaches as part of the University of Tampaís low-residency MFA program.

Statement of Poetics

Great writing transports us. During childhood summers, I would test Fairfax County Public Library's rule against checking more than 50 books out at one timeóworking my way from Encyclopedia Brown to Hercule Poirot. As a student at the University of Virginia, I would sneak off to the chapel, or the Brown College courtyard, with my Yeats and Eliot, my Plath and Cisneros, my Hughes and Brooks, and I would read aloud.

Books have always been an escape, a release, a safe space in which to process extreme emotions.

As a poet, I value clarity, vivid image, parallel syntactical structures, and wit. I find particular inspiration in the Eastern European philosopher-poets such as Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz. Iím interested in poems that can value a banal pleasure (a plate of fish, a slice of bread) and then, a beat later, interrogate the larger reality (a mouth chewing to busy itself, to resist what could be said). The decorative bores me. I crave poems that make truth claims.

Writing is an act of performance. The text must not lie flat on the page. The text should pull you to your feet; where you go, from there, is up to you.


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