The Life and #Poetry of John Beecher

Foster Dickson’s The Life and Poetry of John Beecher, 1904 – 1980 is the only published work about this writer, poet, editor, teacher, and journalist from Birmingham, Alabama who made the fight for social justice his life’s work. The book is available from Edwin Mellen Press for $109.95 in an academic library edition. Foster is available for book talks about John Beecher, his work, and his influence.

From the publisher’s description:

This work is a two-part overview to this writer, poet, journalist, activist, and sociologist. The introduction covers some background on how scholars and academics have neglected Beecher, for a variety of possible reasons. Part one consists of a biography that centers on Beecher’s working life, only briefly discussing his four marriages and only mentioning that he had four children. Part two covers a sampling of his poetry, offering explications and critical analysis that point to the conclusion that Beecher should not have been neglected or omitted from literary study to the extent that he has been. The afterword discusses the author’s experiences during his research process, including meeting Beecher’s widow Barbara. Overall, the work is intended to reintroduce John Beecher to the literary community and incite further discussion about him.

From Fred Whitehead’s introduction to the book:

In addition to the life, Dickson explicates the poetry, in the context of critical condemnation, and sometimes, of praise. It is remarkable that using the same English language, critics could produce such wildly varying judgments. Dickson carefully and diligently explores the development and promulgation of “the canon,” so devised by bourgeois scholars as to entirely exclude Beecher, and others who shared his aesthetics. Bizarrely, these adverse critics denied that Beecher had an aesthetic, or was even a poet at all.


Four Mondays of Poetry: Jeanie Thompson, April 10

Next Monday, April 10, my students and I will be hosting poet Jeanie Thompson, who will read from her new book, The Myth of Water, as a part of our annual Four Mondays of Poetry partnership with the English department at Auburn University at Montgomery. (April is National Poetry Month, of course.) The reading will be held in The Cellar, which is our black box theatre space at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School, and will begin at 7 PM. Admission is free.

About the book:

The Myth of Water is a cycle of thirty-four poems by award-winning Alabama poet and writer Jeanie Thompson in the voice of world-renowned Alabamian Helen Keller. In their sweep, the poems trace Keller’s metamorphosis from a native of a bucolic Alabama town to her emergence as a beloved, international figure who championed the rights of the deaf-blind worldwide.

The other events in the Four Mondays of Poetry series are: last night’s poetry workshop with Tony Crunk, a local poets reading at Kru on Mt. Meigs on April 17, and a reading by Gary Dop on April 24.