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Jeffrey Bean Poet Jeffrey Bean Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window



“"In WOMAN PUTTING ON PEARLS, poet Jeffrey Bean speaks of the body, its loneliness, hungers, and joy. The body in WOMAN PUTTING ON PEARLS is essentially an isolated entity continuously seeking, not only attachment, but utter oneness with the other. But these poems, like want, are complex. The speaker in the 'voyeur' series is sympathetic, pathetic, and frightening all at once. These seeming disparate views of body-love become points on a continuum of the human need to see, touch, love, and even worship another. Through insightful, sharp, and nuanced writing, Bean holds these contradictions in his steady gaze, no need for reconciliation."—Sarah Sousa (Red Mountain Poetry Prize Judge)


"In Jeffrey Bean's WOMAN PUTTING ON PEARLS there's the excruciating pleasure of wanting—the tastes, the smells, the gaze that longs for a body as slippery as a ruby. In each of these gorgeous poems I lose track of the boundaries of flesh and bread, dirt and the beloved's hair, what the body holds and what holds a body. Through every season and each love, everything in the world wants in, wants a closeness, an intimacy that overtakes and consumes and transcends time, distance, and skin. And it makes you want that, too. So do. Open the curtains and open this book and let everything in."—Traci Brimhall (author of Saudade)

"These are love poems for fearful lovers, people who know that all romance is half panic. Or sometimes these are elegies sung by giddy mourners. Often they are both. The speakers in Jeffrey Bean's WOMAN PUTTING ON PEARLS use rhythm and rhyme, repetition and reference to understand and order the world, while deeply 'loving the ache of it' in all of its gorgeous and terrifying and impossible particulars."—Patrick Ryan Frank (author of The Opposite of People)

"ELLA’S PLAN is mesmerizing, embodying the real presence of an imaginative, eccentric, tender daydreamer-child.  I felt riveted by the series of exquisite poems with such potent, occasionally chilling (as in the unforgettable poem 'Truths' about an abusive babysitter) images.  I could not look away from these magical poems.  I felt I had known and treasured this child all my life, but never read this much about her before.  I felt these poems rising out of deepest understanding and care for the outcast, the wayward creative.  I adore them.  There would be no way for this NOT to be the winner.  I can imagine how utterly sensational this chapbook will be, and can’t wait to hold it in my hands.”

--Naomi Shihab Nye (Contest Judge)



When a book of poems begins with the lines “Praise your light, your open blinds/the dark that makes me watch you,” we know we’re going to be in for a helluva ride. Jeffrey Bean has a gift for making the creepy compelling, the silly sublime, and an obsession beautiful. He sells every poem with mouth-watering figurative language, rich music, and slant rhymes that slowly turn true. The Voyeur’s Litany is an invocation of guilty pleasure.


Richard Newman (Poet and editor-in-chief

    of River Styx)

Jeffrey Bean Poet Jeffrey Bean Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window

"It's no small feat to compose a lifetime in just 24 pages of poetry, but Jeffrey Bean has done this, and brilliantly. His poems begin with an adored 'you,' and they make one long to be this beloved person, the language is so luscious and exquisitely tuned (. . . her hair, shook foil). He flits back in time too, revisiting a sensuous childhood where " the graffiti I carved into the grass / has vanished, but the grass insists / on whispering about it." Finally, a newborn appears, "chubby fire, flaring / all night into the eye of / the video monitor." Bean offers startling takes on familiar objects and experiences. A retainer is a "disembodied organ, pink as sex." There's a singing beer can, dancing cellophane, the failed garden brought to life in a closet filled with beautiful red shirts, "that grass-and-river feeling." And always, always, the most lovely, subtle music, for the poet knows not to blare, but to weave sound in, as if it were floating down from an upstairs window." - Sarah Gorham, poet & editor-in-chief of Sarabande Books


Jeffrey Bean poet Jeffrey Bean Poem Jeffrey Bean Diminished Fifth

“The tendency of young poets is prolixity, but no poem in Diminished Fifth is longer than it needs to be.  In spite of its brevity, Jeffrey Bean’s work overflows with an ebullient wit, a playful mix of tenderness and humor: ‘I said to the wheat, O wheat, / family dog of crops,/ curl in my lap and sleep awhile.’  Bean evokes Thelonious Monk, Reverend Dimmesdale, boxing announcer Michael Buffer, Gary Indiana, Mt. Hood, the ‘flamingo light of roller rinks,’ Santa Clauses ringing bells in front of Wal-Mart, chainsaws, grief—all in one poem.  He discovers and writes out of what one might call (though many would consider

it an oxymoron) Midwestern Soul.  Unlike previous poets, who have found in the middle of our country only spiritual and cultural vacuity, when Bean dreams out the window in grade school it is not of escape from the landscape—‘Hi horsey.  Hi

dead corn./ I would rush crunching out there and breathe you.’  This is a book of countless pleasures, from a gifted, large-spirited, hopeful new voice.”—Jeffrey Skinner 


“This excellent book doesn’t contain a single predictable move or obvious line. Jeffrey Bean’s imagery is physical and exact, yet gently surreal; accessible, yet steeped in the strangeness of being. Sometimes spare, sometimes exuberant and comprehensive as Whitman, the good-hearted poems in Diminished Fifth take us to important places.”—Pamela Alexander


“Bean's vibrant lyrics are sometimes sweet and sometimes acidic, but they are always awestruck by and deeply attuned to the strange music they discover everywhere they turn: in an anxious adolescent dance with a partner suffering from ‘Pepsi breath,’ in the way the sun ‘crashes softly on the street,’ in the sound of a passing train saying, ‘with whom, with whom, with whom, with whom.’ It's a tremendous pleasure to find such unabashed playfulness melded with such confident seriousness in the work

of a new poet. ‘Why can't I lie still and not say, / stop making new names for dust?’ Bean asks. The answer's in your hands.”

Joel Brouwer

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