Poet Jeffery Beam
Jeffery Beam's work hailed for its "transcendent, lush beauty, its minimal sacrament, simplicity and physicality" fuses through Gnostic intention the physical and spiritual worlds, creating a conversation between the natural world, the body, and the spirit. He is the author of The Broken Flower (Skysill Press, 2012), The NEW Beautiful Tendons: Collected Queer Poems 1969-2012 (Spuyten Duyvil Press) an expanded version of the acclaimed The Beautiful Tendons: Uncollected Queer Poems 1969-1997 (White Crane Books, volume seven of the White Crane Wisdom Series, 2008), Midwinter Fires (French Broad 1990, Seven Kitchens Press 2012), the chaplet Me Moving (Longhouse, 2010), Gospel Earth (Skysill Press, 2010), A Hornet's Nest-Quotes from Jonathan Williams (Editor) (The Jargon Society and Green Finch Press, 2008), Heaven's Birds: Lament and Song: a cantata for World AIDS Day for voices and string trio (composed by Steven Serpa), an online book Gospel Earth (Longhouse, 2006) and accompanying print booklets with poem selections Gospel Earth One (2006) and Gospel Earth Two (2007), an online "anthology" Poems Small and Not So Small (The Jargon Society, 2006), Old Sunflower, You Bowed to No One -a critical essay on the work of Lorine Niedecker (special supplement to Oyster Boy Review, 2003), Honey and Cooked Grapes (Backwoods Broadsides, 2003), Jeffery Beam's Allnatural Heatsensitive Ganeshaapproved Zuppapoetica AlphabeatSpiritbodySoup (Alpha Beat Press, 2003), a spoken word audio collection What We Have Lost: New and Selected Poems 1977-2001 (Green Finch Press, 2002), Life of the Bee (Rock Valley Music with composer Lee Hoiby, 2001), An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold (Horse and Buggy Press, 1999), Light and Shadow (Aperture with photographer Claire Yaffa, 1998), little (Green Finch Press, 1997), Submergences (Off the Cuff Books, 1997 reprinted in 2008 in Rebel Satori Press's Madder Love: Queer Men and the Precincts of Surrealism), Visions of Dame Kind (The Jargon Society, 1995), The Fountain (North Carolina Wesleyan College Press, 1992), The Golden Legend (Floating Island Publications, 1981), and Two Preludes for the Beautiful (Universal, 1981). Limited edition works from fine presses include MountSeaEden (Chester Creek Press, 2012), An Invocation (Country Valley Press, 2008), On Hounded Ground--an autobiographical essay with poems (Bookgirl Press, 2008), and Lullaby of the Farm (UNC Friends of the Library, 2002). Beam's poems and criticism have appeared in many anthologies and magazines. Beam also co-edited The Lord of Orchards: Jonathan Williams at 80 -a Jonathan Williams online feature (with Richard Owens) in 2009 for Jacket magazine.
Beam's and Lee Hoiby's Life of the Bee performed by mezzo-soprano Shauna Holiman, pianist Brent McMunn, and cellist Barbara Stein Mallow (NY) [cellist Wendy Law in NC] is included in the DRAM archive of recorded music and on the Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive. In addition to the Holiman premieres at the NC Literary Festival and at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall in 2002, it continues to be performed internationally. Beam appeared in the two premiere performances, and has appeared in a few other subsequent ones. He also appears on New Growth: Shauna Holiman and Friends - New Songs and Spoken Poems (Albany Records, includes a studio recitation and performance of The Life of the Bee song cycle as performed at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall). Composer Steven Serpa continues to create works using Beam's texts, or inspired by them such as An Invocation for Oboe and String Trio (2011). A number of student composers have set his poems to music, or written works inspired by them. Choreographer Natasa Trifan has created a dance Somewhere towards the Center using texts by Beam and Ted Hughes for her Natasa Trifan Performance Group.
His poems have recently been translated into Italian by Ann McGarrell.
Beam is currently at work on a number of projects including an opera libretto based on the Demeter / Persephone myth; a song cycle with Steven Serpa in response to Benjamin Britten's Six Metamorphoses on Ovid, an expanded Life of the Bee sequence, They Say: A Commonplace Book on Poetry and the Spirit, and an erasure poem sequence based on Ignatius Donnelly's The Destruction of Atlantis: Ragnarök: The Age of Fire and Gravel. He is also working with soprano Andrea Moore, composer Jake Heggie, and authors Allan Gurganus, Randall Kenan, Frances Mayes, Michael Malone, Lee Smith, and Daniel Wallace on a new song cycle, situated in Hillsborough, North Carolina, tentatively entitled Family Secrets. A chapbook collection, Gilgamesh/Enkidu and a series of illustrated lullaby books with audio CDs and song sheets seek publishers. Forthcoming works include a book version of The Lord of Orchards, and Blue Darter -Jonathan Williams: A Bibliography of the Publications and Ephemera, 1950-2008.
He has had two photographic exhibitions at Through This Lens Gallery in Durham, North Carolina-Daedalus Slept Here: Poetic View: Earthly Travels and Not What It Seems -combining photographs, texts, and poems.
Beam's work was surveyed in Literary Trails of North Carolina: Piedmont, Greenwood Press's Contemporary Gay American Poets and Playwrights: An A-Z Guide, Encyclopedia of Contemporary LGBTQ Literature of the United States, An Encyclopedia of Male Homosexual Poetry, and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Queer America Today Encyclopedia. In 2005 his poems were included in the Polish anthology, Parada równosci: antologia wspólczesnej amerykanskiej poezji gejowskiej i lesbijskiej (Rainbow Parade: Anthology of Contemporary American Gay and Lesbian Poetry). An essay, What Queer Spirit Sees, was included in the 2007 Lambda Award and Stonewall Award nominated Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling. He was photographed for inclusion in Robert Giard's Particular Voices documentary collection of gay and lesbian Writers in the United States.
Beam has received numerous awards and grants including three American Library Association Notable Book and Gay / Lesbian Non-fiction Award nominations, three Pushcart nominations, a 2010 SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Award) nomination, an IPPY Ten Best Books Award, an Audie Award, an AIGA 50 Best Books Award, a North Carolina Writers Network Blumenthal Writer and Reader Award, a Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant, a Duke University Chronicle Award, a Nazim Hikmet Festival poetry award, a Writer's Digest Editor Award for best E-Zine poetry outlet, a 1998 Associated Press Holiday Gift Giving Ideas, and a grant from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation. The poem The Man Who Ate Butterflies, from The Broken Flower, was an honorable mention in the first Bards on the Bus of the Chapel Hill Transit System co-sponsored with The Carolina Quarterly and appeared as a poster on the buses. His work as an educator was highlighted in The Compassionate Classroom: Lessons that Nurture Wisdom and Empathy by Jane Dalton and Lyn Fairchild. Beam is also the recipient of a Preservation Award from the 2004 Preservation Society of Chapel Hill, and the first annual Provost Award for Public Service from the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Public Service in 2000. Associate Vice Chancellor of Campus Services called Beam the campus's Lorax for his service toward protecting Carolina's historic landscape and trees. Jeffery's poem "Song of the University Worker" was adopted in 2009 as the official University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill staff poem.
He served for ten years as a judge for the Lambda Book Awards. He serves as poetry editor for Oyster Boy Review. His papers are on deposit in the University of North Carolina's North Carolina's Writers Manuscript Collection.
Beam retired as a botanical librarian after 35 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in November 2011. Born and raised in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Beam now lives in Hillsborough, NC with his husband since 1981, Stanley Finch.
In magazines, anthologies, books, and other critical works:
Beam has published widely in small magazines, anthologies, and books among them being Visiting Dr. Williams: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of William Carlos Williams, The Asheville Poetry Review 10th Anniversary anthology, Black Men / White Men, Carolina Spring, Collective Brightness, 27 Views of Hillsborough, Earth and Soul: A Russian / English Anthology of North Carolina Poetry, EOAGH Queering Language Anthology, Fourth International Anthology on Paradoxism, Gay City, Gay Roots: 20 Years of Gay Sunshine, Kakalak: An Anthology of Carolina Poets, The Light in Ordinary Things, Longhouse: A Bibliography from 1971-2006, Madder Love: Queer Men and the Precincts of Surrealism, two Nazim Hikmet Festival anthologies, the CD collection 9 Poets Alive the Radio Show: An Archive of Poets from Alpha Beat Featured Arts Broadsides, the North Carolina Arts Council Poet Laureate Poet of the Week feature, North Carolina Poets on 9/11, Pen and Brush: A Collection of the Best Illustrations and Their Poems from Hummingbird's First Fifteen Years by David Kopitzke.the Polish anthology Parada równosci :antologia wspólczesnej amerykanskiej poezji gejowskiej i lesbijskiej (Rainbow Parade: Anthology of Contemporary American Gay and Lesbian Poetry), The Son of the Male Muse, Sparks of Fire: Blake In A New Age, Word and Witness: 100 Years Of North Carolina Poetry, Yellow Silk (first ten year anthology), Arabesques Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, Assaracus, Big Bridge, Blink, Brightleaf - A Southern Review of Books, Cairn, Cardinal, The Carolina Quarterly, Conjunctions Web Forum, The Dead Mule, The Double Dealer Redux, Dreamworks, Evergreen Chronicles, Frame, Gargoyle, The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, Inch, The James White Review, Knockout, Lilliput Review, Lodestar Quarterly, modern words, Mouth of the Dragon, My Laureate's Lasso, 9/11 Twin Tower of Words, North Carolina Literary Review, Origin, Oyster Boy Review, Pembroke Magazine, Poetry Now, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Prose Poem, qarrtsiluni, The Raleigh News and Observer, Shrike, South by Southeast: Haiku and Haiku Arts, The Sun, Tight, Versal, The Worcester Review, Yellow Silk, Kiss Of The Whip by Jim Prezwalski, With Hidden Noise: Photographs by John Menapace [exhibition catalog and book editions], Touching Earth: Reflections On The Restorative Power Of Gardening, The Quality Of Life, and From Grass to Gardens: How to Reap Bounty from a Small Yard (all three by Janet Lembke).
In 1989 The Arts Journal featured the first full-length interview with Beam. In 1998, his short poems were subject of a special issue of Hummingbird: The Magazine of the Short Poem. 1999 saw his career featured as the subject of a Durham Herald-Sun article, and in Duke University's Rainbow Triangle Oral History Project which included an article in their newsletter Tobacco Road. In late 2001 his work was featured, along with an interview, in Charlotte, North Carolina's Main Street Rag. Another feature, including an interview and video clip, appeared in Nantahala Review in April 2003, and in 2004 Virginia Libraries published an interview. Writer Marly Youmans featured Beam's work three times in 2006 - 2007 on her blog The Palace at 2 AM, poet Joe Massey featured an audio reading in 2007 on his blog Mr. Tong Bliss's Journal, and in 2007 artist Laura Frankstone drew him on her blog Laurelines as he taught students at a local high school. He has also been interviewed on WUNC-Radio FM (with numerous appearances on The State of Things), WCHL-Radio AM, WDNC-Radio AM, WNCN-TV 17, WLFL-TV Fox 22, and Chapel Hill Cable. Other smaller interviews have appeared in North Carolina campus newspapers [(including the Raleigh News and Observer; The Chapel Hill News; The Independent Weekly - Durham, NC, and North Carolina Libraries) and internet classroom chats. His work is noted on a number of gay resource web sites.
Readings, Lectures, Workshops:
Beam is known for his vibrant and engaging poetry readings. His highly regarded readings were chosen thrice as Best Bets and thrice as Indy Picks by The Independent Weekly, twice as a Chapel Hill News Best Bet, and as a Smart Bet by Asheville's Mountain Xpress newspaper. Since 1974 Beam has given over 900 poetry readings, lectures, and panel discussions in schools, churches, bookstores, restaurants, parks, and even living rooms, and at two North Carolina Literary Festivals, the UNC-CH North Carolina Collection's Second Sunday Reading series, two Carrboro Poetry Festivals, two North Carolina Writers Conferences, the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, Fort Lauderdale Stonewall Gay Archives Gay and Lesbian Literary Arts Festival, as an award winner and a keynote reader at the Nâzim Hikmet Poetry Festival, as a keynote speaker at Ferrum College's Conference in Humanities on "Gender Roles in a Shrinking World", as a keynote speaker for Earth Day at Virginia Intermont College, as a NC Writers Network Blumenthal Reader, at the International School of Art in Montecastello di Vibio- Italy, at the University of Toronto, and even for the Athletics Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was inducted into the North Carolina Writers Conference, was an invited guest to the Durham Public Library's Centennial NC Writers Gala, and a Parade Marshal for the NC Gay Pride Festival.
For twelve years he directed, produced, and starred in a highly popular program for the Friends of the Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill entitled Winter Stories for Children of All Ages. In addition to numerous middle school, high school, and college classrooms visits, Beam has conducted two Hot Ink workshops for young writers for the NC Writers Network - Fossil Poetry, Seeing the Word, Hearing the World and The Dog of Art in the Garden of Toads; a Bestiary workshop Boo at the Zoo at the NC Zoological Park, a Family Day Bestiary workshop at the Duke Museum of Art, thrice been a visiting author to the Duke University Young Writers Camp, and as an UNC-Charlotte undergraduate art student was a staff member for the summer Brickle Bush workshops for children at the Mint Museum, Charlotte. Beam was a founding member of the now defunct Southern Literature Council of Charleston.
Since his retirement he has also been performing as narrator for a number of classical song-cycle productions.
Please contact him at jeffbeam at email dot unc dot edu to schedule appearances.
Through This Lens Gallery represents Beam's photographic work. He held his first one person show there in October 2006. In 2006 Beam's photographs and publications were included in the Time Arts BCA / BFA Alumni and Faculty exhibition at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. 2007 saw his first photographic publication in Origin magazine. From March - June 2008 a photograph was included in an exhibition, "If You Can Kill a Snake With It, It Ain't Art", of the poet Jonathan Williams' personal collections at the Turchin Center, Appalachian State University. The online magazine, qarrtsiluni, recently featured a photograph. An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold was a feature exhibition at the Duke University Museum of Art (now Nasher Museum), and at Wofford College. The book, or parts of the book, has also been exhibited at the Leipzig International Book Fair, the Frankfort Book Fair, the AIGA National Design Center, the National Humanities Center, the Durham Arts Council, and the University of North Carolina Davis Library. It has also been exhibited at many small book fairs and at Poet's House in New York, along with many of Beam's other works. He exhibited work in the First International Think Dinky Invitational at the Meta-Museum in Durham, NC in 1977. As an undergraduate student at UNC-Charlotte, Beam exhibited visual work during student exhibitions for the Bachelor of Creative Arts program [Beam received his Bachelor of Creative Arts from UNCC in 1975].
Book reviews, criticism, and commentary:
Beam's book reviews, criticism, and commentary have appeared in The Advocate, The American Book Review, Big Bridge, The Chapel Hill News, The Christian Science Monitor, Contemporary Gay American Poets and Playwrights, The Durham Herald-Sun, Encyclopedia of Contemporary LGBTQ Literature of the United States, Encyclopedia of North Carolina, The Front Page, Garden Design, The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, The Independent Weekly, Lambda Book Report, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Queer America Today Encyclopedia, loblolly, North Carolina Libraries, The North Carolina Literary Review, The North Carolina Arts Council Poet Laureate Poet of the Week feature, The Raleigh News and Observer, Rain Taxi (interview with Jonathan Williams), Small Press Review, Smithsonian, The Solitary Plover: The Lorine Niedecker Newsletter, The Sun, Yellow Silk, The Secret Language of Birds: A Treasury of Myths, Folklore, and Inspirational True Stories, WUNC-Radio FM, WCHL-Radio AM, and Oyster Boy Review. Beam is currently Poetry Editor of the print and online literary journal Oyster Boy Review, and was a contributing editor to Arabesques Review. As an undergraduate student at UNC-Charlotte he served as Business Manager, then Poetry Editor, then Editor of the campus literary magazine Sanskrit, and during that time was a contributing columnist to The Road and Irregardless magazines in Charlotte. Hear Ippy Patterson and Jeffery Beam conversing while walking through Duke University's Nasher Museum's exhibition Picasso and the Allure of Language.
Jeffery Beam Home
Last updated: October 1, 2012