Quality of Light

Dan Beachy-Quick joins a panel discussion about the value of liberal arts. Photo: Joe A. Mendoza / Colorado State University

Poet and essayist Dan Beachy-Quick recently added to his accolades when his collection Variations on Dawn and Dusk was longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry, placing his work in the pantheon of American literature.

Beachy-Quick is a professor in the Department of English and teaches poetry and literature. Last year, he was named a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a title granted to outstanding educators in their disciplines nationally and internationally.

He was Colorado State’s first faculty member in the humanities to earn a Guggenheim Fellowship, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for scientists, creative scholars, and artists; the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation conferred the honor in 2015. (Camille Dungy, also a professor and poet in the Department of English, won a Guggenheim Fellowship last year, further raising the stature of Colorado State’s Creative Writing program.)

Variations on Dawn and Dusk (Omnidawn Publishing) responds to another piece of art: untitled (dawn to dusk) a permanent, large-scale installation created by Robert Irwin in Marfa, Texas, which invites visitors to consider the nature of light and space. Beachy-Quick’s collection is a meditation on those themes, providing poetic observations of light and tracking the sun as it warms, cools, colors, and shifts the space in Irwin’s structure.

Two poems from the collection, reprinted with the author’s permission:

always-again goes the refrain
of the sun   it hurts the tongue to say
what’s simple   for a long time I
thought thought was light digging its root
behind the eye   but I don’t know
what happens behind the eye   my
solar confession  like flowers
faith   doesn’t question   facts of days

riddle that everything fits
inside the space it’s given
even my own hand-made thought
even my own hand-made mind
builds the tool that takes the tool
apart   time is another
method   so is the fiddle