A former human rights observer in Haiti and Suriname, and a high school teacher in West Africa, Amy Beeder balances an ear for metre with an often ominous tone, creating a musical, at times mythical, exploration of how we construct beauty and strangeness. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Southern Review and The Nation. She has taught at the University of New Mexico and the Taos Summer Writers Conference and has served as an editor for the Blue Mesa Review.
Amy Beeder’s poems are filled with “silken tents”, “roads of poplars”, “angles of sun”, “orange groves”, “beetle’s skin”, “prophets & smoke” and “dark cradles of stars”. The focus is on the natural world and all of its strangeness: “The world’s a dish to relish, to finish,” she says in ‘Because Our Waiters Are Hopeless Romantics’. ‘Fever’ is laced with images that seem like dreams where “your sheets are a river” and “maybe you wanted to drift this backwater/ remote & oarless in the tangled shade”.
Political and social commentary work their way into her work as well. The narrator in ‘Yellow Dress’ is the prostrate observer, watching from the safety of a cab a Haitian girl either already dead or dying in the street: “my idle taxi level with her unbruised arm,” she says, “thousands crush past her without pausing.” Beeder seems to be calling attention to Western indifference; tragedies large and small occur every day, and we either never know about them or choose to turn away and go on with our lives.
Burn the Field, Carnegie-Mellon University Press, Pittsburgh, 2006