Variations on Dawn and Dusk

Dan Beachy-Quick

Variations on Dawn and Dusk
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Variations on Dawn and Dusk

Dan Beachy-Quick

Acting as poetic records of light, the poems in Variations on Dawn and Dusk follow the sun as it warms, cools, colors, and shifts the space of Robert Irwin’s untitled (dawn to dusk) in the desert of Marfa, TX.

Built on the footprint of the town’s old hospital, Irwin’s permanent installation is a remarkable structure with walls, windows, and screens that both capture and are taken over by the sun’s changing light. Through this deeply engaged ekphrasis, Dan Beachy-Quick uses language to participate in the overpowering elegance of Irwin’s structure. The poet’s fervent observations lead us in cycles of meditation, moving with the light that slides through the surfaces of the installation. Here, the very foundation of our vision–light–forms the vocabulary from which these poems are built.   

Building from Irwin’s use of rhythm and structure, the poems in this collection are constructed with an architectural framework. Rhythmic procedures inversely link the first and last words of the first and last lines of each poem and tie the number of lines to the number of syllables in the first line. These structures form a pattern, a thoughtful consistency through which we are invited to move and meditate with each variation of light.

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