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Joshua Beckman   Jill Bialosky  
 
 

Joshua Beckman is a sturdy younger poet. He can be seen treading the streets of New York City and reading from clutches of pages in crowded smoky downtown bars. His second book, Something I Expected to Be Different, is occupied with characters as familiar as friends, floating outside of their own bodies on the surfaces of summer lakes as they float outside of their own experiences in memory; his long projective lines, alternating with tighter sculptured stanzas, allow warmer winds and longer rivers to wind through them. Tomaz Salamun, the Slovenian poet belovèd of certain young American writers today, once quite amusingly observed of Beckman that there are "no similarities with [Guillaume] Apollinaire or [Allen] Ginsberg, except with what they were doing to Time while they were young." Beckman's poems flow out from a long American tradition beginning with Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass through Carl Sandburg's Chicago Poems to Charles Olson's Maximus poems and Allen Ginsberg's Fall of America, even, perhaps strangely, the columnar iconographic gestures of Concrete poets like Ian Hamilton Finlay, overlaid onto otherwise buoyant lines. The reader is startled to find herself weightless but also anchored in many regions concurrently, though such tethers prove elastic and even detachable to those who drift through those places; Joshua Beckman is the author of two books of poetry, Things are Happening (American Poetry Review, 1998, winner of the Honickman First Book Prize) and Something I Expected to be Different (Verse Press, 2001). He lives in Staten Island and is the Poetry Editor of Radical Society. If you encounter him in bar or bookstore, buy him a whiskey or coffee, remind him that America and its readers are lucky to have him.

—Ernest Hilbert

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