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poems by Bruce Beasley


Orison Books
paper  /  72 pp.  /  $16.00
ISBN:  978-1-949039-41-2

Distributed to the trade by Itasca Books
952-223-8373  /
Publication Date: May 2, 2023




Suppose the shreds of our prayers and of our faiths could themselves become a radical new form of devotion. Bruce Beasley confronts the apocalyptic zeitgeist of our time (political turmoil, societal division and isolation, spiritual despair, environmental catastrophe) and the crisis of faith in the human future. These poems make of the vocabulary of doubt a strange kind of sermon, summoning into chorus Heraclitus, Zeno, the Buddha, Roget’s Thesaurus, ancient prayers and hymns and scriptures, and an AI chatbot. In these fractured and ecstatic psalms, Beasley makes his ruptured way toward a faith that relies not on dogmas and creeds, but on a broken utterance for a torn and living faith. 




"While Prayershreds is virtuosic in its intelligence, range, and linguistic pyrotechnics, it's also profoundly intimate. [...] This collection is a marvel of improvisation and combinatory play."
Claire Bateman, Presence


"With the poet, we wager that a God who answers to many names will accept all manner of supplication. But our prayers say something about us, do something in us, Beasley believes."

—Aarik Danielsen, Fare Forward


"In Prayershreds, Bruce Beasley approaches prayer with a postmodern sensibility, but without irony—a rare combination. Or the irony is disarmed in wonder, a wide-eyed wonder equally accustomed to postures of terror and pleasure, of ecstasy and dismay. [...] I have never read a book more richly concerned with language-in-prayer, with prayer-in-language. It speaks with ancient knowledge, and yet somehow its song is wholly new."

G. C. Waldrep


"As a fan of Bruce Beasley’s earlier work, I am glad to see this volume of new verse in which he makes an even deeper dive into the nature of language. Like E. E. Cummings and James Joyce, Beasley is a poet of language, someone who loves words so deeply he can’t resist wrestling with them, sometimes syllable by syllable. Admitting that he often wanders 'off-trail, far into words,' he makes us see anew the language we use every day and too often take for granted."

Kathleen Norris


"The intellectually prodigious poet Bruce Beasley is uncannily wired to perceive, fracture, and reshape the sonic cosmos of language, particularly the language of prayer (praise, thanksgiving, petition), with an acuity that is both feverish and reverent. One thinks of Hopkins on psilocybin, the Psalmist translating the Dhammapada. Our iconoclastic guide through this antic, homophone-driven, thesaural minefield of the discourse of belief and unbelief is as conversant with AI chatbots as with the Biblical gospels."

—Lisa Russ Spaar




Bruce Beasley is the author of eight previous poetry collections, including All Soul Parts Returned (BOA Editions, 2017), Theophobia (BOA Editions, 2012), and The Corpse Flower: New and Selected Poems (University of Washington Press, 2007). He has received The University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series Award, The Colorado Prize for Poetry, and The Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award.






Seam-fray off phlox & dry hollyhocks


Steam spray

from hosed

hot sidewalks

& hiss




unsolsticed un-

sanctioned unchanged


Steeple-shadow like

a scorchmark on pavement

droughtscar doubtsmolder


Unsummonable Summa



these summer days sick

anyway stainsamed


of unseen unseeable omnium dis-




reign of unrain

Unquenched corona

Simulated unstimulated

some unnamable seeming



undersmush of

smoked-out sun



Sirius dogstar

semblances of mystic/




off your dog Orion hazed

& dissembling


desymboling August moon

mon semblable

mon semblable blasé


& blah’d away sine qua


sun-stunned & samemaimed

plagued and wildfire-rained and decades-long war

surrendered and faces re-mask-choked


chokechained Sirius’s singed & dog & doggéd song-


stifled days



Prayershreds, poems by Bruce Beasley

$16.00 Regular Price
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