Late Night Library

Rookie Report: Caroline Beasley-Baker and Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon

Caroline Beasley-Baker | For Lack of Diamond YearsPelekinesis
November, 2013

fate/a conversation with a friend (sonora)

i’ve spent a little over 20 years
in the desert —lost in the declensions
of pattern and detail:

no great love or hope of it —
no real success in the world to hold me
in good stead.

yet just now — i find
i’m no longer so reclusive.
i suffer a dram of bitterness/
an occasional fit of spite —

but my boon is my freedom:
the great revelation of the disconnect —
just me —

at home with the thrill —
my diminished fear of solitude.

Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.

Caroline Beasley-Baker: Poems—a narration between realms of being—quotidian/numinous/the-revamped-transcendental.

LNL: If this book were the love child of two others, who are its parents?

CBB: Emily Dickinson. Her poetry-DNA seeded so many of us. Some bit of her sense of things—her structure image to image—seems to reside in the current/the space between things as I feel them. When I first read her poetry as a teenager, I felt like I already knew the words before I read them.


An anonymous, medieval troubadour—one of those lyrical/trickster souls who ‘sings the world’ as he goes—too often, “. . . playing real good, for free.”

I think of them as ‘the spinster and the rainmaker.’ I could only hope to deserve either of them.


Godfather: Gerard Manley Hopkins. I love him.

Godmother: Marianne Moore. I love her too. She lived just around the corner from me in her Fort Greene days.

For Lack of Diamond YearsLNL: What ingredients  go into the recipe of your writing style?

CBB: I like working in different poetic forms—usually simple forms with simple rules that can be easily subverted. So, spare but flexible bones. I like combining the conversational with the formal. In “For Lack of Diamond Years,” I used a handful of forms: free verse, unabashed counting forms like the Hay(na)ku and the Elfchen, and a very minimalist version of John Cage’s mesostic form, along with a small number of poems based on colors and traditional American songs.

I like to think of the minimalist forms as “something small and [cheap] and plastic” (as a Cowboy Junkie song “almost” has it). I like the humility of the throw-away, whatever it is—there’s a poignancy in it for me.

And in general, I prefer clarity and precision in ALL pieces/parts of whatever I do as counterpoint to the ambiguities and rambling and unknowns of thought/feeling. This extends to a very particular use of punctuation and line spacing. I’m a visual artist as well as a writer, so the way the poem looks on the page plays an important role in the sense/sensibility of the poems. That’s pretty much it.

Subject or imagery, poem to poem, is most often a matter of what captures my attention at a given moment.

LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.

CBB: Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”/Chretien de Troyes’s, “Yvain, the Knight of the Lion.” I can’t choose between these two. (And then there’s “The Iliad” . . . ).

LNL: Answer  a question you wish people would ask you about writing.

CBB: Once at a party, a fairly well-known historian leaned over and asked me, ‘How is it you became whatever it is you are?’ I laughed, but her question makes me think about the particular form of “For Lack of Diamond Years” as a whole, and what, if anything, it demonstrates.

When I was a kid, I thought for a long time that each time I blinked the world changed. I probably still think this because in my mixing of poetic forms, in the ‘blinking’ sequence of poems, I hope the collection has it own impressionistic narrative. If there is meaning to be had in the whole, I would say it could be found in the space between the poems, in the way they adhere or not. Richard Bruno, who curates a very wonderful “poem of the week” series said of “For Lack of Diamond Years”:

“For some reason, I keep thinking of Leonard Cohen’s lines, ‘There a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.'”

That would be something!

I hope some people will read the collection start to finish—the poems are short—it doesn’t take long.

Get a copy of For Lack of Diamond Years from Pelekinesis

Beasley-Baker_Caroline CAROLINE BEASLEY-BAKER is a poet and visual artist. Her poems have appeared online and in print in Qarrtsiluni, MungBeing Magazine, MOBIUS /The Poetry Magazine, The MOM Egg, La Fovea, and volumes 5 thru 8 of the Brevitas Festival Review of the Short Poem. Meritage Press published two chain poems done with writer/poet Holly Anderson and singer/songwriter Lisa B. Burns in The Chained Hay(na)Ku Project anthology, 2010.

She frequently uses words/poems in her visual work for which she has received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in painting and a National Endowment for the Arts in Collaborative Work. She lives in Fort Greene/Brooklyn, New York.


Rookie strip


Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon | Nothing | Two Dollar Radio
November 2013


I was smoking a cigarette. Bridget was driving, to the party. 

She stared at the red light but she was talking about the bum woman in front of the courthouse. Gesticulating at traffic, shouting something I couldn’t make out. Bridget hadn’t turned to watch the woman, moving like Lou Reed, but she’d seen it all anyway. The skinny black jeans, black jacket, and shades. Everything filthy. 

This is why I am so out of this town, she said. It’s like, a freak magnet. It’s like, hell on earth. 

I watched my reflection in the side mirror. Truck door, sunglasses, thin arm, blood lips. I let the cigarette drop. It smoked on the street, a long way down. Freak. Lou Reed’s mouth moved continuously. She inflated with the flicks of her wrists. Behind her the courthouse clock dwarfed in its steeple. I could end up like that. Like Lou Reed. All it took was one thing after another until you were all the way broken. It was easy; I’d been circling around it forever already. It was nine fifteen but not dark yet. The light went green and Bridget gassed it. 

I lit another cigarette.

God, Ruth, how can you smoke in fire season?

I shrugged. She changed lanes, glanced at me from the side of her eye. 

Just like breathe.

NOTHINGLate Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.

Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon: Interpersonal cannibalism smokes my neo-conspiracy: there isn’t nothing, there’s less.

LNL: If this book were the love child of two others, who are its parents?


Nothing’s mother: Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov

Nothing’s other mother: Less than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis

Nothing’s biological father: The Trial by Franz Kafka

LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.

AMWC: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan or CD Wright’s Deepstep Come Shining.

LNL: What ingredients  go into the recipe of your writing style?

AMWC: Salvia and coffee + white girl wannabe Wu-Tang Clanish verbal rhythm + Comme Des Garcons circa the year 2000 = Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon’s style in Nothing 

LNL: Answer  a question you wish people would ask you about writing.

AMWC: Because if I didn’t I would be obliged to kill myself, which would be unacceptably pathetic.

Get a copy of Nothing from Indiebound


Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon received her MFA from the University of Montana. She is a PhD student in English, Cultural Studies, and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In 2010 she received a MacDowell fellowship for the manuscript of Nothing. It is her first novel.




Posted on: November 15, 2013 · Blog, Homepage, Rookie Report ·Tags: , , , , .

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