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I Was the Jukebox: Poems

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  256 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
“These poems are fresh, crisp, and muscular. They are decisive and fearless. Every object, icon, or historical moment has a soul with a voice. In these poems these soulful ones elbow their way to the surface of the page, smartly into the contemporary now.”—Joy Harjo, prize citation

from “The Piano Speaks”

     For an hour I forgot my fat self,

     my neurotic innards, my add
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published April 5th 2010 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Michelle Tooker
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite collections of poetry.

My review from Elevate Difference, below:

As a poet myself, it’s inspiring to come across a writer like Sandra Beasley. Not only is she highly talented, but she’s also a young, female poet who has already published two book-length collections and received national recognition and awards. In her latest collection, I Was the Jukebox, it’s easy to see why she’s so successful. From the first page to the ninetieth page Beasley blends refreshing imagery with uni
James Murphy
May 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Sandra Beasley is that kind of poet I admire very much, one who translates event into language. She's a young woman. She's at the beginning of her career with I Was the Jukebox, her 2d book of poems. But I'd say she's already finding her own possibilities and moving beyond her frontiers. These poems are solid with confidence and maturity. Her poems pulse at times with a verbal frenzy that seems to teeter on the edge of losing control, yet time after time she steadies them. "The Story" and "Osiri ...more
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
There is nothing particularly wrong with these poems. They are light and clever and moderately well-crafted, but they violate Isaac Bashevis Singer's fundamental rule about writing. The writer must feel that this story absolutely must be told. I can't say what Beasley felt about these poems, but it would be hard to believe it was an existential exigency.
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: S
Shelves: read-in-2011
About Beasley's previous collection, Theories of Falling, I said: "The speaker is educated, intellectual, wise perhaps beyond her years. Truly an artist." I also said, "[Her poems] make me want to push the books aside and get back to writing." That goes double for Beasley's more recent collection, I Was the Jukebox.

I hardly know where to begin. This is fabulous work, one of my favorite poetry collections. The poems are vivid, complex, and to me, endlessly fascinating. (How does she do it??)

I ab
Jun 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, female-writer
I group Sandra Beasley's poems together with Julianna Baggott and Aimee Nezhukumatathil--they write accessible poems that I really like to read. They are poems I would give to someone who wasn't into poetry, or someone just starting to read poems. They are straightforward, easy to understand, but still really good. I think these poets are great for poetry.

Beasley said in her book that a lot of the poems were written during NaPoWriMo. I saw a lot of them posted to her blog every day as she was wr
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Sandra Beasley was already one of my favorite poets before I read this book, but this collection is what puts her over the top 5 of my current favorites. I read each poem several times, savoring every unexpected image, and sounding out the wonderful consonances of her words. Reading it was a little like eating French pastry, each little piece so artfully constructed, so appetizing, and so flavorful and surprising. I read so many poems out loud to my husband as he was brushing his teeth and getti ...more
Kirsty Hughes
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is only the second collection of poetry I have read, and I gotta say I absolutely loved it. This is great. Recommend it to anyone that likes poetry that is almost dream-like, yet profound. If I didn't have to turn this back in to the library, there would be highlighted lines all throughout this book. Only wish I didn't have to write a paper on it for school right now.
Cecilia Li
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Monologues that Thrust Deep –
Poetry Review of I Was the Jukebox by Sandra Beasley

Anything can speak in Sandra Beasley’s poems, even sand, piano, world war I, Minotaur and eggplant. They are living things with stories and emotions. Personification is not even considered as a figurative speech in her poems because it occupies each of her poem. In the most sensuous and implicit way, and in the least dramatic way, those objects are telling you a drama that stains. In a tone that is calm yet sarcasti
Ellen Mcgrath
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I Was the Jukebox by Sandra Beasley took me by surprise, it gave me so much joy to read. The language pops, it opens sudden windows to an unexpected insight. It has a good sense of intimate rhetoric, as does Shaughnessy; as in Human Dark with Sugar, an intimate second-person address to a lover is frequently employed. Both poets are strikingly alike in their project of uncovering an intimacy of address that is near-subcutaneous in that these poems do not delineate the personal or fill out the set ...more
Diann Blakely
Sandra Beasley’s *I Was the Jukebox* first allures the reader’s ear with its taut syntax and jazzy tonalities, often harshly assonantal. Brash and brassy, her sonics are at their arguable best when counterpointed formally, either by the sestina’s strict demands--“Returning to the Land of 1000 Dances”--or the looser ones imposed by unrhymed quatrains and couplets. Fourteen of the latter, all but one self-contained, which ends in a colon, comprise “To The Lions”; and here, Beasley amps up the tens ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: popsugar-2016
More reviews available at my blog, Beauty and the Bookworm.

I'm not a huge poetry person, so when "A book of poetry" was included on a reading challenge list, I was not thrilled. Because I am very ambivalent, at best, towards poetry, I decided to do something I don't usually do for reading challenges and re-read a book I'd consumed in the past. I originally read I Was the Jukebox for a literature course at my university, and I hung onto it (unlike most of my textbooks) because there was one poem
Mar 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Sandra Beasley's sassy and cute poems could win a Miss Congeniality prize. Cut in the mold of Wislawa Szymborska, Beasley builds her sparkling snow-forts around fanciful conceits, asking playful questions like: What would the sand say if it could talk? Does God prefer the breaststroke or the backstroke? Like Szymborska, Beasley delights in the eccentric's hobby of making whimsical lists: "Face it: I will never/appear on the flipside of a nickel,/or as a balloon floating down Fifth Avenue;/no one ...more
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those fine books of poetry that make reading all the not-as-good ones worthwhile just to get to a gem like this. One of the comments on the jacket describes these as "fresh, crisp, and muscular." I agree, especially with the muscular. I'll do something I rarely do and include one of the poems in this review.

You Were You

I dreamt we were in your favorite bar:
you were you, I was the jukebox.
I played Sam Cooke for you,
but you didn't look over once.
I wanted to dance. I wanted a Scotch.
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm just a bit in love with this book - and as love so often works, I can't exactly put into words why I'm so infatuated with it. It's the kind of book my friends would tell me to keep my distance from, that it just isn't right for me. And in unguarded moments, I would understand their reasons. Mbut it wouldn't matter. Despite the rough edges, I would find myself drawn in..,

And enough of that metaphor. There were many time I found myself distanced from the book, but then a poem or two woul sink
J.D. Isip
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the first cool things I did when I moved to Texas was go to Fort Worth to hear Billy Collins read his poetry. However, Collins was pretty much eclipsed (in my humble opinion) by two younger poets - Ada Limon and Sandra Beasley. Beasley's poetry was so honest and musical compared to Collins' who was still playing the part of the Woody Allen-esque astonished little boy. She read "You Were You" (which is the poem the title of the collection comes from) and then walked us through her process ...more
Evin Hughes
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Anyways, I read through the book delighting over the poems that Beasley had read to me—and the others in the classroom—herself; the voice in my head inferior to hers. In the book, Beasley speaks from the point of view of an eggplant, of orchids, of a jukebox, and many other inanimate objects and animals. Though all of the poems are exceptional, I want to draw your attention to one titled “The Cutting Board (p. 57).”

This poem reminds me of her memoir Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl, where she depict
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved, loved this collection! (possibly more than Theories of Falling). First, the title alone caught my attention, and this happened to be the first of Sandra Beasley's collection I had read. I was extremely impressed with her style, and how each of her poems had a unique flow, yet worked well together. I loved how she was an eggplant in a sestina format, which happens to be one of my favorite ways to write poetry.I look forward to reading her novel Don't Kill the Birthday Girl. ^.^
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, poetry, older-ya
The winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize has created an intriguing volume of mostly short poems. Some of the poems feature inanimate objects while others concern problems and animals. I especially liked "Beauty" a poem about a stray dog adopted for a while by a family. There is a lot of variety in these poems so that I read each one with a sense of discovery.
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was a recommendation - and what a fantastic recommendation it was! I love the use of the unexpected, of giving voice to inanimate things or abstract concepts and creating these memorable, on-the-nose works. And then always underlying everything with a certain understatement of longing and belief, of being fragmented but wanting.
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm not an expert on poetry, so I don't have anything specific to say about this book, but I loved it. It's a Barnard Woman Poets Prize Winner and I think it deserves the award. My favorite poem was 'Cast of Thousands'. It was all very lyrical and makes me want to look into more Barnard Prize Winners to see what other poetry they endorse.
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm struck by Ms. Beasley's strong, clean style, her fearless and nuanced approach to themes, and her courageous use of mythological figures and references all bringing together a remarkably insightful look into the seemingly ordinary. Love Poem for Wednesday and The Piano Speaks are just two of my favorites. I'm not finished reading this collection and will certainly reread many of the poems.
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
When I first opened this book, I loved it. But it lost a little something for me after a while. I'm not sure if it was because I was reading from a different place or because the poems seemed to follow a formula. A harsh criticism, I know. But I was less patient with the second half of the book, even though I truly thought there were brilliant moments!
Dec 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Fun. (And how often do you say that about poetry?)
I love thinking that sand has a say (and a piano, too).
I read this easily. I thrill and then tire of the parade of declarative sentences.
Mabye I want some resistance. Something to catch me, catch and stick.
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
There is lyricism in the simplicity and directness of Beasley's language. She draws out the life of objects, myths & events without being whimsical or offering 'cute' anthropomorphism. One of the most poignant lines (and my favorite) is from The Piano Speaks: 'For an hour I forgot my fear of rain.'
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Beasley often takes a light-hearted approach in her poems, making them quite approachable. But she is also adept at tackling difficult forms like the sestina. My favorites are "My god" and "Unit of Measure".
Laura Davis
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beasley’s poems are playful and surprising. In this book she gives voice to the voiceless: sand, Orchis, the Minotaur, a piano, and a platypus. She is an expert with forms, in particular the sestina, and she is fearless and honest about the travails of writing “failed” poems.
Barton Smock
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
most of these poems have marks on them, and make marks in kind. I don't understand why clarity is so often dismissed as resulting in something not seen as necessary. if one has eyes, Beasley has an onlooker she'd like to point out.
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mark by: Dave Bonta
Shelves: poems-poetry

I enjoyed this although only one or two really grabbed me and I cannot say why I liked it. With that in mind, I won't say much until I get a chance to reread it someday.
Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Sandra's book is full of play - funny, thoughtful, cerebral - she plays with characters from mythology, she plays with the idea of love poems. She is the jukebox! If you like poetry that makes you think while making you laugh, you'll enjoy this book.
Feb 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Sandra Beasley takes the persona poem to a new level. With poems told from viewpoints of everything from the platypus to a jukebox, I found Beasley's second collection of poems a delightful read!
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Sandra Beasley is the author of I Was the Jukebox, winner of the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize, selected by Joy Harjo and published by W. W. Norton. Her debut book, Theories of Falling, was selected by Marie Howe as the winner of the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize (New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2008). Her poetry has been featured in the Best American Poetry 2010, and her nonfiction has been featured ...more
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