I'm so honored to share with you all a bit about Beth Gulley. On a Monday afternoon in this crazy heat, I drove past fields of head-high corn and the bluest July skies down to "the studio" in our North Kansas City warehouse office by the muddy ol' Missouri River. Beth and I, despite those pesky COVID masks, enjoyed some time sitting across a beat-up table, talking about poetry. We are now welcoming Beth as one of our poetry jurors and onto our amazing editorial team of volunteers that are helping to launch our press. She has written a guest blog for us below about Poetry in the Garden, but I first wanted to share a little bit more about her work so far.
Beth Gulley lives in Kansas City and teaches writing at Johnson County Community College. She has an MA from UMKC and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. Her poems also appear in the Bards Against Hunger Anthology, From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology, the Thorny Locust, and The Gasconade Review Presents: Storm A’Comin’. She loves thrift store shopping, traveling, and drinking coffee.
When I asked about Beth's most recent publications, she told me about her recently published chapbook "$!*# Hole Countries: A Find and Replace Meditation," inspired by her love of the beautiful places and the little moments. Beth grew up in the U.S., Ecuador, and Paraguay. Her work as a professor has also taken her around the world, meeting educators. In 2018, the quote that inspired the title of her book, and the associated block on travel, occurred while she was on a cross-cultural exchange trip in Pakistan with other faculty from Johnson County Community College. Beth shared with me her emotions on hearing whole parts of the world debased by profanity, when her continued reality was one of beautiful and priceless experiences of both growing up and sharing in an international community of educators. Beth is one of those fierce and gentle poets who works by action and carefully chosen words. So, you'll have to check out her new book to find out what happened with her exercise to meditate on these incandescent moments of place with poetry. She told me she wrote mostly about El Salvador, Pakistan, Kenya, and a few others.
When I asked about Beth's writing process, she said she enjoys writing with the 365 Days Poetry group on Facebook, and she loves to work in form—often Japanese forms—like the Tanka. She is excited to be published in an upcoming issue of Gasconade Review, "Letters to a Young Poet," by Spartan Press and the Osage Arts Community in Belleview, MO. The biannual Gasconade Review features Kevin Rabas, former poet laureate of KS, and is coordinated by Jason Ryberg of the Osage Arts community. Beth admits that, while her husband also teaches writing, does a daily writing prompt with flash fiction or portions of a novella with a friend online, she likes to write by hand, or sometimes in her phone. "I draft it, move it around, and edit it. Share it with Family. I have a little writing spot in what is supposed to be a sunroom. Drink coffee. Black, or sit outside and write by hand...There is something visceral about writing in a notebook with a pen—a tangible record for a later moment. I can go back later and say, 'there is a good seed in this poem.'"
Beth is not one to let things go by. During the summer, she rented some garden plots at Paola Community Garden. She started doing yoga in the garden, then met with the garden organizer, and told her she'd love to host a writing event. Below is the description of the first one; the second writing in the garden is scheduled for September. I don't know about you, but I plan to be doing writing in the garden on my own homestead, or in the park nearby maybe for the rest of the...year.