When the Gnostic Gospels collide with new age spiritualism, the Oxford Happiness Test, and treatises on Buddhist practice, we know we’re in the territory of a Bruce Beasley collection. Known for his intense and continuing soul-quest through previous award-winning books, Beasley interrogates the absurdities and spiritual condition of twenty-first century America with despair, philosophic intelligence, and piercing humor.
You see there’s an Arthur Schopenhauer,
often, in my mind,
muttering his strings
of cosmoscidal et ceteras.
I write this twist
of psalm to still
him instead of you,
you who are gone
Into that unbeing
you so voluminously and erotically extolled.
“All Soul Parts Returned is a dynamic catechism-in-progress, laden with prayers, addresses, and meditations on God’s ‘pouring-apart of opposites.’ Bruce Beasley reminds us that to ‘come apart’ or ‘go missing’ is not necessarily to be lost, and his lyrics struggle movingly with limitation and loss, with familial bonds and inheritance, and with the way we can neither fully hide in nor emerge from our vocabularies. The prismatic language of these poems shimmers with a love of ‘the inchoation of words’: ‘Out of the ordinary something keeps/busting loose…’ These poems gather, return, and enlarge it.” —Mary Szybist, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry
“Like Robert Duncan, who was also powerfully drawn to Gnostic and Hermetic thought, Beasley’s reading in mysticism has, above all, animated his lyrical acuity. He draws from these traditions not merely for their substance but also to enhance his musical chops. And when he displays those chops, the results can be majestic . . . a fluency and rhetorical control that no other poet of his generation can match.” —Kenyon Review
“There is a tidal force at work in these poems. They rush toward the reader with frenetic intensity, then slowly recede, leaving us drenched in language that is working at its highest level, language riding meaning the way foam crests a wave.” —The Rumpus