In a 32 Poems review of Bruce Beasley’s Theophobia, Luke Hankins taste-tests several poems both analytically and artistically, highlighting the theological, philosophical, and spiritual connotations of the collection. The reviewer suggests that Beasley’s poems “repeatedly raise the moral considerations inherent in the idea of a creator who is dreadful as well as glorious” and that such considerations are examined through the “lens of scientific learning.”
Though seemingly fascinated by the intellectual content of Beasley’s work, Hankins notes that the subject matter of his poems does not detract from the artfulness of Beasley’s writing, but rather reinforces the idea that “art convinces us that we are not alone in asking questions.” Beasley’s use of language is “an all encompassing metaphor” that “considers negative possibilities without faltering” and leaves the reader pondering the broad spectrum of spirituality without being subjected to “facile idealized assumptions.” He compares this expression to “Keats’ idea of negative capability.”
Along with the impressive “brains” of the poetry, Hankins seems equally charmed by Beasley’s use of language as the “all-encompassing metaphor,” his “brilliant and deep linguistic wit,” his fascination with etymology, and his ability to successfully “employ rarely used words.”
After a close reading examination of and philosophical engagement with numerous excerpts from Beasley’s poetry collection, Hankins provides the following review of his experience:
“In reading Beasley’s work, I find myself in the presence of an intimidatingly broad intelligence– one that not only has a great store of knowledge but also makes associative leaps and linguistic ventures that probably would never have occurred to me. It is for that very reason that intimidation is replaced by curiosity, and curiosity accompanied by wonder. Here are poems that carry me along when I can’t keep up, and which pull me close in moments of frightening intimacy. Here are uncomfortable poems that feel as familiar as my own doubting mind. Here is beauty marred with hectic pace that reminds me of the churnings of my own soul. Here is a poetry deeply rewarding to those of us who, like Beasley, wrestle with the metaphysical implications of our world and our lives in it.”
If you would like to begin your own philosophical conversation with Beasley’s latest work, Theophobia, you can obtain a copy from the BOA bookstore.
Luke Haskins’ article, “Metaphysical Courage: A Review of Bruce Beasley’s Theophobia,” can be found in 32 Poems Spring 2014 Issue.