Praise for BEAUTIFUL: Translations from the Spanish:
What compels us to poetry? the word. Whether spoken aloud or silently read this book of exquisite and compelling translation will bring you to POETRY. And you will not only experience the poet but the poet reborn through Mr. Beissert’s interpretation.This human landscape of words and images holds great resonance and character so that the words are the drawn vessel the reader puts to their lips and drinks down to feel the warmth, emotion, love of the heart. A unique rendition of master poets by a skilled and dedicated translator. These words will take root in the spirit of all who spend time in their embrace, holding the land within, the sea within and the sky within. –Jenny Lee Bates, “The Heart Within” Amazon customer review
[…] this new book — featuring 18 Lorca poems and 26 Neruda poems translated by Asheville-based poet Caleb Beissert — is welcome because it possesses an admirable unity of theme and mood, and that unity is reflected in the book’s title, which is Beautiful. Indeed, the Lorca and Neruda poems selected for translation by Beissert — and the resulting translations of those poems — are all, in one way or another, beautiful. The book does not employ that sadly overused word superficially or sentimentally; rather, Beissert is interested in better understanding the true nature of beauty, and this quest constitutes the book’s underlying motivation — to understand and celebrate the beautiful game of poetry as practiced by two masters whose works took shape within the Spanish language yet which have universal meaning. Beissert’s book, though somewhat slim at 80 pages, has large, noble intentions, which is forecast in the book’s profound epigraph from Albert Camus: “Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should stretch out over the whole of time.” Even though they grew up in disparate sections of the Spanish-speaking world (Lorca in Spain, Neruda in Chile) and though their poetry was markedly different (as Beissert explains in his introduction), the two poets knew one another and were near contemporaries (Neruda, of course, lived 35 years longer, given the execution of Lorca by Francisco Franco’s army during the Spanish Civil War); both poets in their poetry celebrated their nation (Lorca in fact spoke primarily for a region in Spain, Andalucia) and both were heavily influenced by literary modernism. Beissert succeeds in this grafting of two separate canons because he understands these poets, their worldviews, and their stylistic intentions.The 44 original poems by Lorca and Neruda included in Beautiful (some of the poems being well known in the U.S. through previous translations by various translators, other poems being overlooked gems from those poets’ canons) bear the extraordinary philosophical heft and stylistic grace long associated with these two poets. Generally speaking, Beissert’s translations embody the spirit of the original poems without being bound by the constraints of literal translation. (Potential readers should note that, while the book does not provide the Spanish-language texts of the 44 poems, Beissert’s translations are faithful to the originals.) Beautiful includes a lucid, reflective introductory essay in which Beissert conveys his thoughts about the process and practice of translating poems. […] And what of the translations? Beissert captures their mystery (Lorca’s poems, particularly), their majesty (Neruda’s, especially), and their grace (found in the work of both poets, certainly). […] Well, I know of a poem that at least equals “Las seis cuerdas” in paying homage to the instrument that Beethoven referred to as “an orchestra unto itself:” a poem entitled“La guitarra,” also by Lorca. I hope someday to read an English-language rendering of that poem in some future collection showcasing more of Beissert’s sensitive, memorable translations.–Ted Olson, Rapid River Magazine
The word “beautiful” is the perfect metaphor for what Caleb Beissert has made of the poems of Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca in this collection—some of which are well-known, if not ‘celebrities” of the late 20th and early 21st century literary canon. Beissert has brought, in his translations of these two international giants of modern verse, a new insight into their respective psyches and their Hispanic passion for language. For two such well-documented poets as this, one might wonder if more translations of their work are necessary. But as Beissert reiterates in his Preface to the book: “I do not believe in ‘definitive’ versions, nor in the finality of ‘literal translations.'” His renderings in BEAUTIFUL put any such philosophical questions or doubts to rest. The transliterations here are, as he puts it, “like a family moving into a new home. A fresh glance, a new perspective, a current voice.” The new Beissert-inspired 21st century voices of Neruda and García Lorca come across as nothing less than the exegesis of the book’s title: “beautiful.” –Thomas Rain Crowe, New Native Press
Praise for Poetry Cabaret Collective:
This isn’t your normal poetry reading.
Those words, spoken by Creator and Director Caleb Beissert as he introduced the Asheville-based Poetry Cabaret Collective, could serve as the tagline for the show. The performance is decidedly different than a typically-staid poetry reading. The small stage is sparse. A microphone stand is set in the middle, a piano in the corner. Old frayed hardcover books, a red curtain, and a hat rack are the only decorations, but those decorations are beside the point. This minimal approach to the staging is an unsubtle hint that this show rests on the talents of the performers, and the versatility of styles they bring. The evening started with music. The show’s composer, talented multi-instrumentalist Aaron Price, started off with a rousing piano number that touched on a variety of different styles. Beissert then took the stage and read poems that verged from political to humorous, occasionally accompanied by Price on guitar or piano. Their collaboration was expertly-arranged, especially when Beissert read work he’d translated from the Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca and Price accompanied him softly on guitar. The result was lovely. Not all of the readings were accompanied by music, but none lacked style, either in content or approach. Justin William Evans delivered the most nakedly-political poem of the evening, an untitled screed aimed at Donald Trump. Kevin Barger, a retired slam poet and organizer, lightened the mood by asking the audience if they felt sexy before he started, then smoothly read his work. Michael Coyle’s voice was as hypnotic as the short poem he read, and Kevin Evans delivered one of the most-powerful performances of the night (again, joined by Price on piano). For this run of shows, the Poetry Cabaret Collective is featuring D.C.-based poet, Teri Ellen Cross Davis. Ms. Davis gave a smooth reading with three short poems that revolved around femininity, Michael Fassbender, sexual desire, and Shakespeare. Adding her to the lineup was a shrewd move, not only because it involved someone local, but because Ms. Davis makes any collection stronger. But poetry wasn’t the only art form featured that evening. Cellist Polly Panic delivered two dark performances that were simply spellbinding. Dressed in all-white and with a sense of insouciance, Ms. Panic resembled nothing less than a rebellious angel, and she played and sang like one as well. Her boyfriend, comedian Tom Scheve, did a quick standup set that went over well, and touched on their relationship and the history of this area. –E.A. Aymar, DC Metro Theatre Arts
Reminds us of: Def Poetry meets DC Gurly Show; A Trump tirade at a new decibel.
Flop, Fine or Fringe-tastic: Fringe-tastic.
The strength of Poetry Cabaret, a mix of performances compiled by Asheville-based Poetry Cabaret Collective is in its variety; from a rock-n-roll cellist to a stand-up comic to burlesque, you never know what is coming up next. (Well, okay, the burlesque finale was anticipated.) The show is slightly different each night, but the common denominator among all performers is their voracity. On Friday night, the poets’ spit cascaded visibly from mouth to mic during several performances, so passionate was the delivery. This intensity is all the more impressive given the intimacy of Trinidad Theatre, which feels like a cozy living room. As host Caleb Beissert noted at the beginning of Poetry Cabaret, all the artists get naked on stage—in one way or another.
Beissert — a skilled poet in his own right — is an engaging guide throughout the cabaret, introducing each performer with a mix of hype and “alternative facts.” Aaron Price’s original melodies on the keys and the guitar interlude between acts back up the poets at just the right moments, highlighting emotion and sometimes adding humor. The mash-up of performances does include plenty of laughs, but the more moving performances strike a serious tone, such as Kevin Barger’s spoken word piece about an HIV scare. Kevin Evans also bellowed out a darker piece “for those who can’t make love”—a line that took on new meaning with each refrain. And, if you can catch it, Poetry Cabaret is worth seeing just for Justin William Evans’s absurdist poem about our president, with its satisfying combination of howls, obscene imagery, and mean whispers. –Allie Goldstein, DCist
“The troupe pushes boundaries with experimental poetry readings, in short sets and cabaret style. Some do magic. Themes include erotica and social justice, the purpose entertainment and free expression. The mood is often festive like ancient Roman revelry.” –Pete Zamplas, The Hendersonville Tribune
Praise for Poetry Open Mic Asheville:
“As one of the most popular literary events in town, this event has created a special space for performers to share their work.” –The Laurel of Asheville
“The most eclectic spoken word event in town.” –Mountain Xpress
“Anything goes at this open mic, and Noble Kava provides an atmosphere in which young poets can read their work for the first time and more experienced writers can try out new work. Occasionally, tourists even get up to perform poems from their home countries. The audience is notably enthusiastic — and noisy, as this is a very social event — and aptly showcases the ongoing passion for spoken word in Asheville.” –Mountain Xpress