ALL SOUL PARTS RETURNED, BY BRUCE BEASLEY
All Soul Parts Returned, Bruce Beasley’s eighth book of poetry, includes 25 poems that put many different texts in conversation. The collection opens with a whirlwind of fragments from philosophy, religious practice, and ritual that prepare the reader for Beasley’s poetic retrieval of “soul parts,” or the pieces of the soul dismembered when the self is scattered. For Beasley, it is in the search for these soul parts where the human spirit and the spirit of the poet find and realize themselves, and, in turn, seek to claim these soul parts back.
Though packed with lyrical heat and intensity, Beasley’s poems are patient, willing to explore anything from a word to a philosophical statement to a shamanistic ritual. From reflections on The Purpose Driven Life through the lens of Arthur Schopenhauer to observations of a child conducting an experiment for biology class in his kitchen, the poems are simultaneously meditative and energized—says Beasley: “What do you think the poet is trying / and trying and trying not to say / when he calls his son from geometry-fume into the kitchen / and splatters into a pan already smoking on the stove.”
Throughout the collection, Beasley reminds his readers of the poet’s constant temptation to claim a soul part, a poem, or even a word before the process of exploration, experimentation, and the final shaping of language is complete. In a similar fashion, this book warrants multiple returns; it will open up and teach the reader new ways to engage it with each sit-down.