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Meeting the Muse

January 24, 2021

This beautiful book has just arrived by airmail. Beausoleil’s latest volume of poetry is published this month by Intermittent Press, San Francisco, in a stylish edition of fifty, hand-stitched in red, with black flyleaves. I am the proud and happy guardian of number 4.
Contact: intermittentpress(at)gmail(dot)com.

Eighteen poems written over the course of half a century document the tumultuous relationship between a timeless elemental and a poet of our time.
The Muse is essentially capricious, erratic in her comings and goings, supremely undependable.
She wears red and black and always makes a dramatic entrance. She is glamorous and shabby, magnificent and pathetic, needy and generous with her random gifts. She has bad habits and an unhealthy lifestyle.
She stays away for months and turns up when least expected. She makes unreasonable demands, and gives unreliable advice. She’s superstitious, manipulative and amoral. She never apologises nor ever explains.
Commitment is not in her vocabulary, though she is fluent in all the languages humans have ever spoken.
She is maiden and crone but she’s nobody’s wife, nobody’s mother. She is Sibyl and Siren. Don’t call her a goddess; she is contemptuous of those who worship her. But she’s happy to sit on a bar-stool or on a river-bank and have a conversation with one who comes close to understanding her and will buy her a whisky or find her a cigarette.
She has come in many different guises, as the Muse of Homer, Sappho, Dante, Shakespeare and countless others. We can’t do the work of poetry without her.
These poems are bruising and uplifting, tender and harsh, down-to-earth and otherworldly; they are full of honesty and subtle wit. I love each one of them and it’s hard to choose one as an illustration. Here is the title poem.

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