Brief Moral History in Blue
“‘On a day fresh as a haircut’ writes Beth Roberts, ‘I left the family for the field. / I looked hard for the body.’ This is a book of setting out, of looking for the body––familial, sexual, spiritual, poetic––from which we were somehow, long ago, severed. These poems inhabit, unflinchingly, the “invented and inflicted holes” of a consciousness that is by turns grieving, ironic, self-lacerating, celebratory. Roberts’ faith in the renovating powers of lyric tradition is as anxious as it is necessary. This book is gorgeous and true.”
“Beth Roberts’ poems are en route and restless, glimpsing, as they do, “what it is the century requires.” Such glimpses take hard work with a steadying lens and the willingness to stop abruptly, to implicate oneself in the brief, severe clarity that a lens frames. Throughout her impressive first collection, Roberts fights to keep the fine synaptical snap of perception alive amidst the world’s relentless desire for “ a long attenuating history.” Of course, to count the cost of true sight and the worth of our hours requires a stubborn belief in language, that “spectrum of decision” she calls it. It is her original and serious play with this spectrum’s wide swerves, its echoes and vortices, seductions and groundings, that compels readers to believe as well.”
Beth Roberts was born in Chicago but spent most of her early years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She received a B.A. in English from Western Michigan University and her M.F.A. from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her poems have been published in Black Warrior Review, The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, The Iowa Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. She won an individual artist’s fellowship in 1999 from the Illinois Arts Council. Beth Roberts works as a freelance writer and lives in Illinois.