Reading at La Tasca

Posted in Happenings, Poetry with tags , , on August 17, 2013 by C.C. Beissert


Update: gigs at The Royal Oak and La Tasca were splendid success. Nice audiences and fabulous to hear the fellow poets. My next feature spot: 12:50 PM at The Banshee Labyrinth

“George T. Lewis Academic Center” by Caleb Beissert

Posted in Poetry with tags , on August 13, 2013 by C.C. Beissert






George T. Lewis Academic Center



A blank page
the rest is well they say history
among the dead and scholars of war among
the ringing bells and endless paper airplanes
open windows in the spring
her majesty the teacher and holly bushes outside
the window that is wavy over the radiator
painted silver to warn
and small beetles come in after the rain
biology a subject I never had
the teacher mad barking like a dog on top
of a desk
the children blinking
in disbelief
the radon under the school
my English teacher had us read
Blake Coleridge Whitman
Dylan Thomas
Ginsberg—she knew someday I’d fall
in love


—first published in Red Earth Review, 2013

Test Route

Posted in Poetry with tags on August 13, 2013 by C.C. Beissert

Sold to Rome beckons the saltwater
Motion light bathing
Single waves wash over
The breathing


Poetry in Edinburgh

Posted in Happenings, Poetry with tags , , on August 12, 2013 by C.C. Beissert

Greetings, followers! I’m off to Spain, but first to Edinburgh for the Free Fringe, starting off what promises to be a knock-out trip with a reading at Conversational Tones at The Royal Oak (1 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh). I’ll be joining poets James McKay and our gracious host Matt Macdonald for the show. Beats to Byron blade of grass Taoist linen-washer daydreams mixed with trace-amount social comment and sweet adrenaline. More, I’ll be posting updates here during the next few weeks.




Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Posted in Poetry on April 5, 2013 by C.C. Beissert





Sweet Guatemala, each slab
of your mansion takes a drop
of ancient blood devoured
by the mouths of the jaguars.
Alvarado crushed your ancestry,
broke the astral trails,
wallowed in your martyrdoms.

And the bishop entered Yucatán
behind the pale jaguars.
They joined the deeper wisdom
heard in the air
of the first day of the world,
when the first Maya wrote
making note of the trembling of the river,
the science of pollen, the rage
of the surrounding gods,
the migrations across
the first universes,
the laws of the beehive,
the secret of the green bird,
the language of the stars,
secrets of day and night
taken from the shores
of earthly creation!



A Bishop


The bishop raised his arm,
burned books in the plaza
in the name of his tiny God
turning to smoke the ancient pages
weathered by dark time.

And the smoke never returns from the sky.





translated from the Spanish of Pablo Neruda by Caleb Beissert

“The Next Big Thing”

Posted in Poetry with tags , on March 7, 2013 by C.C. Beissert


I’ve recently been tagged to participate in “The Next Big Thing,” a literary chain letter/blog hop that’s meant to promote new writing. The gist is that you answer a few questions about an upcoming or recent book, then post these answers to your blog/website/Facebook page/wherever, and tag some friends who will do the same the following week.

I’ve been tagged by Christopher Martin, a fine poet whose chapbook A Conference of Birds was published by New Native Press in 2012. Martin also is Editor-in-Chief of Flycatcher. You can read his interview here.

My interview is below, and following that is the list of folks I’ve tagged with links to where you can read their answers next week.

What is the title of your book?


What genre does your book fall under?


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Translation must keep pace with ever-changing language.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

Beautiful was published by New Native Press in 2013. NNP is a great small press, based out of Western North Carolina, and run by the Baby Beat poet Thomas Rain Crowe.

 Beautiful front cover only-Page-1b

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I had been translating Spanish-language poetry throughout my time at Western Carolina University and continued to do so after graduating and moving to Asheville to work for a magazine. I was adapting the work of several different poets, mostly Spanish and some Latin American poets. I had not considered the possibility of publishing a book of my translations; however, I had been submitting them to literary journals and sharing them with other poets, including Crowe, who eventually approached me with the idea to do a book. We went back and forth for a long time discussing the idea. The manuscript was originally a diverse sampling of Spanish-language poets, but we whittled it down to Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca. I wanted the book to showcase simply the poetry.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration comes from the poets whom I translated. I can’t say why. Somehow I was drawn to their work, and it only continues to draw me in. At their best, these poets write with a sense of mystery, a perception of death and dark sounds, a hopeful longing—that indescribable spark that courses through the greatest art.

García Lorca’s poems in Beautiful draw inspiration from his homeland of Andalucía, its landscape, people, and especially their music. He was particularly intrigued with cante jondo, the deepest songs of flamenco music. There are several poems in this selection directly related to this music and culture, but all of his poems reflect this influence in the rhythm and musicality of their language. Other poems deal with war and untimely death, spirituality, nature, and frustrated sexuality. Several poems are taken from unpublished papers written in the poet’s youth. One poem, “Ode to Walt Whitman,” was inspired by García Lorca’s stay at Columbia University in New York, where he found himself out-of-place, homesick, and angered by the oppression he witnessed there, yet he found solace in other writers and the music of black people, which he found similar to his native Andalusian folk music.

Not all of García Lorca’s work is so dark, though. It was Pablo Neruda who said of Lorca’s happiness that “[it] was as much a part of him as his skin.”

Neruda’s poems are inspired by a love affair, earthquakes, other poets, politics, trains, water (especially the oceans) and ordinary objects like tomatoes. His work, like García Lorca’s, is inherently tied to the poet’s homeland, Chile, which he loved with his life. Neruda had a turbulent life at home and abroad as a diplomat and in exile, as lover and adulterer, celebrity and private man. The title poem of this book was written for Matilde Urrutia and comes from Neruda’s Los versos del capitán, originally published anonymously.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Well, I spent about six years translating the material. The manuscript itself probably took a few months to put together and find the right sequence, but not too long relatively. Then, it was more months of copyediting, revising, and logistical headaches.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Philippe Noiret would, of course, play the part of Pablo Neruda.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The book contains the enchanting poems of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda, but it also contains an introduction in which I speak to the translation process. It also includes a summary and anecdotes of the poets’ lives as well as notes on particular poems. I explain the connection between the poets, while respecting their uniqueness.

One of my primary objectives is to create a discussion of the translation process itself, which I feel is commonly misunderstood. Poetry translation is not a process of mere word-for-word, literal translation—which is, in fact, impossible—but a subjective art that seeks to convey the essence of the original poem. The translator also attempts to preserve or mimic sound and meter where possible. Furthermore, translation must reflect changes in language. I am translating into the English of right now in this part of the world. This is not to say I am attempting cheap modernization of the original vocabulary, but rather to put things as we would today, in a manner that allows the poems to resonate with the modern reader.

If you’d like a copy, you can order them directly from me or Small Press Distribution.


The writers I’ve tagged for next week are:

Justin Blackburn


“The Mountain and the River” by Pablo Neruda

Posted in Poetry with tags on February 11, 2013 by C.C. Beissert




The Mountain and the River


In my country there is a mountain.
In my country there is a river.

Come with me.

Night rises up the mountain.
The faint longing down in the river.

Come with me.

Who are those who suffer?
I do not know, but they are mine.

Come with me.

I do not know, but they call me
and they say to me: “We suffer.”

Come with me.

And they say to me: “Your people,
your unlucky people,
between the mountain and the river,
with hunger and with pains,
they do not want to fight alone,
waiting for you, friend.”

Oh you, whom I love,
small, red grain
of wheat,
the struggle will be hard,
life will be hard,
but you will come with me.


translated from the Spanish by Caleb Beissert

“The Surprise” by Caleb Beissert

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on December 30, 2012 by C.C. Beissert





The Surprise



while the still stones whisper

in my ears climbing the mountain

more brilliant falling leaf like a silent dervish

             still spinning

mind of resurrection infantile dialect reasoning


the old seafarer watches the storm wash in

a different wind drives the tides and moon

            pulls and rises

drifting through pure existences

a dude trying to holler at this girl

a thousand-alligator pit swarming

            made angry by red meat

four-hundred and six burning blue

windows to worlds in soft midnight exploding

one nation under frog


with eggs and a side of ketchup






—first published in The Journal of Interdimensional Poetry, 2012

Poetry by Caleb Beissert

Posted in Poetry with tags , on November 11, 2012 by C.C. Beissert




Mind Warp



We are racing toward far
alight star cloud
out in the deep space
of our eyelids.





—first published in The Journal of Interdimensional Poetry, 2012

Poetry by Mike Cook

Posted in Poetry with tags , on November 10, 2012 by C.C. Beissert




Hero of the Suburbs



Go drown on me
In a mineral pool of white tulip petals
Formed in the canal of your sternum
Raise me in a whiskey-stained revival tent
A barrel of black pepper—the pulpit
Walk me down the pews filled with ghosts
Teach me how to drown out sirens
Seduce the green wasps from my skin

And lose
No fire

Make dove with me
Skate with me on plaid and plywood
Remember me before the wood, before
Nocturnal raptors flew to my bed
Stole my wings and pecked my fontanel
Leaving only a seed of flight
Now, a lonesome silver maple
Ceded to a prison of soil

Faded maroon
Petrified leaves

Pinned to a floor of fingertips

Have steps with me
Take my ocelot follicles
Weave a lion’s mane
Use a pen to check my square
Let me know I’m there
Work in a garden of feet
Buy yourself glass toenails

You first
Told me

There’s no crystal stair

Mike Cook, 2012





Little is known about Mike Cook, except that he is here. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and from time to time, shows up to read at the Vanuatu Kava Bar Open Mic and other poetry readings. His poems often are filled with dark humor, sex, skateboarding, suburban drug dealers wearing fitted hats, and plungers—yet there is a tenderness in Cook’s words and a perception of the proximity of death and other-worldliness that permeates his work.