We Come Elemental
Winner of the 2011 Kinereth Gensler Award
FINALIST, 2014 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARDS
"In her lovely, complicated poems, Beyer . . . suggests that queerness isn’t relegated to gender or love but is part of the ebb and flow of everything.—Library Journal
"What is remarkable about We Come Elemental is that it effectively queers nature and body without explicitly doing so…. Gender, sexuality, and body coexist with the ever-changing tides, and desire is upheld as a pure form of (re)creation. Beyer has written a nuanced book that deserves a careful, joyous, and thoughtful read." —Lambda Literary
"[Tamiko Beyer] brings the sad, tiny lyric poem that lately has been used to express mere post-postmodernist nonsense, and delivers to us a charged, politically relevant, aesthetically revealing book. Beyer is the real deal. Read this book." —The Rumpus
"The poems in Tamiko Beyer’s We Come Elemental. . . float together, each buoyant image sinking at a different speed into the same ocean. These are environmental poems, but not pastoral; we don’t see the traditional imagery of untouched meadows or flowing springs, instead, Beyer gives us pollution and unease. This sense of destruction flows through the collection is Beyer’s way of heightening our awareness [of] environmental destruction." —Poets at Work
"Tamiko Beyer’s collection of poems, We Come Elemental, confirms the arrival of an exciting new talent, a poet whose ability to mine seemingly infinite meanings from objects and ideas permits an exploration of the contradictory, paradoxical, and complicated nature of human existence."—Hyphen Magazine
"We Come Elemental introduces us to a poet of uncommon elegance and mystery. These poems act as a tour guide for the human heart, with sparse and fragrant writing. Haunting and full of humanity, these poems lash us to the world underwater and through the body politic with a sizzling ear and eye for what makes the body thrum." —Aimee Nezhukumatahil
"It is easy to notice that We Come Elemental is beautifully written, a book indebted to the traditions of lyric and yet attentive to language’s possible innovations. But it is important to notice that it is a book of complicated dialogue between ecologies, geographies, and bodies. Nitrogen, the plastics of the North Pacific Gyre, New Orleans, Saint Louis, lantern fish, muscles of the body, all of it is there, floating together in the body of the poem." —Juliana Spahr
"An elegant, dynamic collection immersed in the insistent logic, memory, and drive of water, We Come Elemental invites us to inhabit the possibilities endemic to our relentlessly material living being. Fluid and arresting, subtle yet bold, Beyer’s linguistic dexterity showcases a singularly perceptive, refined intelligence and its artful, intimate deliberation upon some of the most critical questions of our time." —Duriel E. Harris
Read poems at Octopus
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Lullabies are strange things. They console and terrify with a single melodic truth: the beauty of life is the mystery of death. Tamiko Beyer understands the uncanny spirit of the lullaby. She wields her lyric power deftly, taking words like “being,” “parent,” and “poet,” and splintering their meaning. She skillfully breaks and resets form, creating poems that are terse, tender and ultimately, enduring.
In a trance-driven lineage of serious thinkers which include the likes of Myung Mi Kim, Jessica Grim and Bruna Mori, Tamiko Beyer does not separate the experience of a gendered body from genres of thought. This writing lies down between poetry and theory and makes a bed there, a bed of textured experience and fabulous rhythms.
Our poems may be our babies, as a friend said to Tamiko Beyer, but the desire for a baby can be a very complicated poem. Beyer charts her desire for a child through lenses of memory, what ifs, hormones, possible adoptions, and unsimple yearning. Where “neither gender nor sex [is] fixed,” a baby must be found rather than conceived in the standard way. Beyer's chapbook adds to a growing body of poetry about non-traditional families. It is a book about bodies, their transformations and their costs (“...more money if... // a) special needs b) forgiven c) teenager”). But it also a book about family values, real ones.
—Susan M. Schultz