Thursday October 21, 2021
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Scott Beal

Scott Beal

Chicken Soup for the Lesbian Nun Soul

by Sally Mitani

From the March, 2015 issue

My book of Scott Beal's poems, Wait 'Til You Have Real Problems, has more pleats than a Catholic schoolgirl's skirt--from my habit of turning down a page with something I like, twice if I like two things.

What I look for in poetry is the sensation of jumping from ice floe to ice floe: just me and the poet, balancing on a thought. Another one sails by, we catch it, the poet one step ahead of me, leading the way. That's me and Scott Beal, whom I've never met, but he lives in Ann Arbor and will be reading with poet Jeff Kass at the U-M Hatcher Graduate Library on March 18.

Here's an example of the way Scott Beal sails around. Flip to page five to a poem called "Chicken Soup." Now that's a brave subject to tackle in poetry; it's been Campbell-ized into the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise since the 1990s where it joined apple pie, motherhood, and the ole swimming hole as "this better be good" subjects. And, sweet Jesus!, it is. He buys a six-pack, and he's thinking about something he read: how chicken soup was invented.

And what, you may ask, would such a crucial

roast chicken be doing so close

to Francescas' bathing quarters?
I won't give it away, except to say that it rivals the Song of Solomon in sensuality and involves lesbian nuns. In a lovely way.

Later, in "Gross, Gorgonzola," a meandering muse on children, he again almost seems to be veering toward something hackneyed. As the narrator's finicky child picks at an over-privileged salad, he watches children outside the window who by accident of birth will never have the opportunity to think the thought of the poem's title. But where he goes next with that thought takes him out of maudlin pity into much tougher, existential territory. Many of his poems have that toughness. Often he begins by tracing the way back to a childhood event and, instead of revealing wonder and innocence, reveals childhood in all its horrifying clarity.

Beal is mostly not a playful poet, despite his easygoing colloquialisms, but in "Liner Notes," when he writes about himself, he lightens up, thanking artichoke hearts, diminished fifths, and any weekday without a cubicle. Scott would like to thank someone for Creation but hymns are for chumps.     (end of article)

[Originally published in March, 2015.]


Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

Spectator Sports
The A2SO's search for a new music director will play out in public this season.
arwulf arwulf
Raising Funds to Raise Spirits.
An online telethon for suicide prevention
Davi Napoleon
Fifty Years at Bivouac
Last year was the toughest.
Ed Davidson
Culture in Saline
Crawford Out
For the second time in two years, city council voted to remove the city administrator.
James Leonard
Fatal Fungus
"It is awful," says Heidi Frei of how the oak wilt fungus has affected the Green Lake Campground.
James Leonard
Shawarma Shop Changes Hands
Fulfilling another restaurant dream
Micheline Maynard
New Use
Redeemer Church has bought the Treasure Mart's building on Detroit St.
Jan Schlain
Nightspots: Habitat Lounge
a2view the Ann Arbor Observer's weekly email newsletter