Dear Beast Loveliness: Poems of the Body
By Tim J. Myers
Reviewed by Grace Stansbery
In Dear Beast Loveliness, Tim J. Myers explores the physical and spiritual existences pertaining to the body. “The most profound of all human experiences is simply having a body,” he writes, and “of all our universal realities, it’s certainly the most fundamental.”
Myers’ poetry rejects the preconceived notion, propagated by religious extremism, that the body is “essentially foul”, along with more modern conceptions of it as “pure machinery producing the illusion of self.” Riding the gray area (in typical 2013 fashion), Dear Beast Loveliness’s poems waver back and forth between wet dream and in-body-etherealism. In one representative poem, Myers utilizes concepts like Voyager’s robot sensors in conjunction with the tiny heartbeat from a fetal monitor to ask the question: “Which [is] more mysterious, and which came from further away?”
The book is written from its author’s perspective, though. That is to say: at sea level, with the rest of us. Conceived by a straight white Christian male, Beast Loveliness resembles its author’s identity through these categories. Many of the poems revolve around Myers’ wife, illustrating their “numberless acts of love” together. Trying to be lovely, the poems can be lovely. When Myers ventures outside traditional bodily ode codes, something else happens. See: In Praise, a couplet that devotes an entire page to itself.
Oh the wonderment
of her fundament.
For the most part, the book is heavily stacked in its first half. Myers’ subject matter becomes less varied and less creative as the pagination increases. He begins one poem with “We are the mouths that eat the world”, then ends with “We are the mouths,” in a hopeless conceptual drum beat, designed, faultingly, to leave a reader speechless.
Though, like any multiplicitous poet/human being, Myers has his serious redemptive moments. He writes very tenderly about his sister’s body taken by anorexia, about a miscarried sibling, and a few surprisingly progressive subjects, which he fills with adoration and appreciation.
Oh pagan organ,
how far our sons and daughters have gone,
pale Christians that they
no longer adore you
I must add, though, that my largest contention with Myers is his yet narrow world view. The introduction includes a suspicious disclaimer, which kept me sensitive throughout the whole book. He says, “I write… as a male heterosexual, but I consider all forms of gender and sexual orientation sacred.” On this topic, some of his poetry features queer and disabled bodies, but Myers only scrapes the surface with one or two poems (which he writes with little to no authority). It seems, if one were writing a book about bodies, there would be some realistic variance in the appearances and abilities of these bodies. Though, for Myers, a monogamous lifestyle lends itself, for the most part, to a monogamous book of poetry. Which is something notable in itself.