Praise for Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018):
In his latest, ekphrastic, collection Roy Beckemeyer pushes boundaries and imagination forward. His interpretations of angels—personal, metaphoric—resound and sometimes subvert expectations: “We should help them, you know, / the wounded angels of the world.” Amanuensis Angel is a crucible for Beckemeyer’s mysticism: “Gravity bows in defeat / at the seventh level of / heaven.” Gravity and other forces alter within these pages—well worth the read.
~ Tyler Robert Sheldon, author of Traumas
His rich poetic craft is apparent at a glance, and delving further reveals the poet’s depth of knowledge and vast experience, a sensibility wedding the past to the moment, all applied with an amazing, you might say, arthroscopic precision, exploring his theme with keen reach and kaleidoscopic variation, and not a weak link in the making, as if the words were honed to fly pure and true as an angel. Yet I find him at his masterful best when engaging an earthy irony, as when Adam casts a knowing eye on a lustful angel, or when the selfsame angel guarding Eden’s gate wryly observes the exiles stumbling forth in naked pride and folly, ever hungering, failing — foreseeing them damned, the man and his rib-wife, to the end of their days. Whereas any day spent reading these poems provides a glint of grace.
~ Melvin Litton, author of From the Bone
This is a pleasure to read. Surround yourself with every imaginable angel you can think of. Experience the paintings, drawings, and sculptures of inspirational art that goes with and beyond each poem. Roy Beckemeyer has blended the higher powers with visual content that can only be described as awesome.
~Dan Pohl, author of Anarchy and Pancakes (Illustrated by Jessie Pohl)
Roy Beckemeyer’s new poetry collection, Amanuensis Angel, is an original and stunning blend of ekphrastic poems inspired by angels interpreted by eclectic artists. Riffing off abstract expressionist, symbolist, and surrealist art, Beckemeyer writes a universe of poetry here, showing us the embodied, soulful, and mechanistic angels across space and time, including how “An angel is a complex system” (responding to a Salvador Dali painting), and the meaning of “Angels arranged as a storm front” (in response to a Henry Ossawa Tanner painting). There is an expansive wit and magic in this book, and reading it is like looking through a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday. In speaking to a Hugo Simberg painting, Beckemeyer asks us to “Think how many angels/ you might rescue if you start now.” He has already started, and this brilliant poetry spins together grace, humor, depth, and imagination to rescue more of our whole selves.
~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate and author of Miriam’s Well
- Read River City Poetry Editor April Pameticky‘s review of Amanuensis Angel.
- Dan Pohl‘s annotations on two pages of Amanuensis Angel in my blog post, “Making the Poems You Read Your Own.”
Praise for Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014):
“Why can’t we remember that first burst of air?” asks poet Roy Beckemeyer in his debut collection Music I Once Could Dance To. Poems and prose poems answer this question, as this wise poet recreates memories of farmlands, music lessons, owls, people, and domestic still-life. Join this travel guide as he time travels through magical realities and makes each breath a new revelation.
~ Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, author of Mélange Block (Red Mountain)
Roy Beckemeyer’s poetry moves with the surety of the practiced dancer who not only knows the steps but truly feels the music. His poems can catch the painful longings of youth and for youth, dancing right up to the edge of sentiment but always knowing where that line is and never crossing over. They move in ballrooms both local—meadowlarks launching from fence posts, a girl in a white sundress on a porch swing, an owl in a sycamore—and more worldly—the bluesman and his harp, Canada geese becoming “kanji characters stroked boldly / across rice paper sky,” the Viet Nam war. Regardless of place, each movement of the music is beautiful, full of surprising variations on its theme. Music I Once Could Dance To is a masterful first book.
~ Bill Sheldon, author of Rain Comes Riding
Beckemeyer’s first book sings the full-bodied rough, but tender, song of his small town Kansas youth. An amateur entomological paleontologist, his is a poetry of minute detail, nuance, and image, of poetic/scientific observation, of the insect kept centuries in rock.
~ Kevin Rabas – author of Sonny Kenner’s Red Guitar
With a keen ear for sound and a sharp eye for detail, Roy Beckemeyer’s inaugural book of poetry traverses the country from the White Sands of New Mexico to the Mississippi basin, lingering significantly in the great Midwestern states of Illinois, Nebraska and Kansas. Whether exploring the nuances of Geomorphology among friends or the awkwardness of adolescent relationships, Beckemeyer courageously explores a variety of poetic forms. He is just as comfortable writing a colorful prose poem about a man who fears hospitals as composing rhymed quatrains for “If She Came with Flowers.” Clearly influenced by his background in the sciences, Beckemeyer’s poems acknowledge his familiarity with Jazz, the Blues, and the poetic tradition of William Stafford and Kansas’ own Caryn-Mirriam Goldberg, of which this collection is now part. It is quite gratifying to see this collection of poems find its way out into the world. Readers will find here, as I have, many distinct landscapes and larger-than-life characters.
~ Lisa M. Hase-Jackson – Editor 200 New Mexico Poems and ZingaraPoet.net
In Music I Once Could Dance To, Roy Beckemeyer has written poems that are generous in spirit, wise in their experience, and reflect what is gathered from the living of a passionate and compassionate life. In the directness, clarity, and elegance of a poem such as “Currents,” “River cutting away what/faith we and sycamores relied upon,” and in the poem “White,” “I realize that white is enough/that white is everything,” I hear a voice as uplifting and insightful as Mary Oliver’s. And in the poems “Love Song from Your Garden” and “Jim,” I hear a voice as unique and powerful as that of Hayden Carruth. It is fortunate for us, that Roy Beckenmeyer has invited us to dance with his highly accomplished poems.
~ Walter Bargen, First Poet Laureate of Missouri and author of Trouble Behind Glass Doors
Memory constantly partners with the moment in Roy Beckemeyer’s poetry. Together, they glide a slow waltz across the dance floor of a Midwest at once familiar and mysterious. Scenes distant in time – a classroom of anxious catechumens, a frozen pond of eager skaters, pals guzzling pails of beer – acquire startling immediacy by means of a single detail: a hand reeking of cigar smoke, the rifle crack of ice, the laconic cadence of unexpressed regret. Other poems lull us with their “green song of grace notes,” linking the surface of the instant to its deeper layers. Led by images as luminous as a white cotton dress or a “perfect circle of milk” left on the counter, we delight to recognize our world, and ourselves, in Roy’s poems.
~ Victoria Sherry, editor of Timely…Timeless: 25 Years at Eighth Day Books
In Roy Beckemeyer’s beautiful poetry collection Music I Once Could Dance To, a whole life’s worth of stories are presented as parts of a dance. After the invocation, which glimpses inside “This Poet’s Notebook,” the exposition offers stories of childhood and coming of age. “Lessons,” one of my favorites, recalls Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz.” In the wonderful “A Year in Small Town Illinois: 1953 in Tanka,” each month shows rather than tells a full story in 31 syllables. (In June, “our mulberry hands / bloody from murdered berries… [confess] our transgression”; July, “a coffee can / blows its top into the air/ our homemade Fourth of July.”) I suspected that “The Calculus of Coming of Age” perfectly captures the yearning schoolboys feel for their female classmates (“the lanky languor of girls / raising their knowing arms / their eyes filled with answers”), but I read it to my husband just to be sure. (He assured me it does.) “1965” is a marriage of the political and personal, and a sure sign that this section is drawing to a close—the time of innocence has passed. And, yes, the next sections (theme, variations, recapitulation) contain songs of experience, but that childlike sense of wonder remains, whether Beckemeyer is marveling at the beauty and force of nature (“At Night in the Southern Rockies,” “Tornado Warnings”), giving insight into 50 years of married life (“At Watermark Books before the Reading,” “Remnants in the Kitchen after You Leave for Work”), or pondering our existence (“First Breath,” “We Discuss the Geomorphology of Life”). This is a carefully crafted book—the poems themselves and the way they’re ordered. This collection is deep and thought-provoking but offers moments of real humor. These poems were somehow able to make me nostalgic for experiences and times that aren’t my own. I loved this book, very much.”
~ Melissa Fite Johnson, Author of While the Kettle’s On
Woke up at ten this Saturday morning, mailed a care package to Sarah in California, ate
California pizza from Dillon’s and then lost myself in Roy Beckemeyer’s poetry book
Music I Once Could Dance To. For two hours, hours that evaporated to two o’clock, I danced, pivoted, tapped, and “dervished” my way to page 30. I will continue through the day, munching on a sweet read and cool, green Saturday. The poems are written in a manner that shows a high regard for the subjects, whether animate or not. As I continue
I deeply interact with each poem, pulling out the vivid images, alliterations, and talk with them, remembering stories from my past and jotting future poetic ideas for later writing. This is a collection that keeps giving the second and third time the selections are read If you do not know Roy, I will tell you that to read the book, will give you a friend as if you are speaking with him across a campfire on a cool summer evening. Please pass this on to other gentle hearts who want a better world, the one we know we could have today.
~ Dan Pohl, Author of Anarchy and Pancakes
- Read Wichita Eagle’s Book Page Editor Arlice Davenport’s review of Music I Once Could Dance To.
- Read Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s goodreads Review of Music I Once Could Dance To.
- Read Alarie Tenille’s goodreads Review of Music I Once Could Dance To.
- Read Emporia Public Library’s Wendy Devilbiss’s Review of Music I Once Could Dance To.