In Teaching the Baby to Say I Love You, Craig Beaven takes the reader on a heartfelt journey through the current American political landscape. In the first sequence, within the threat of classroom gun violence, he explores love, race, language, and terror. A second sequence makes those fears personal and individual, and the third traces these topics into a deep, historical roadtrip through the American South. He questions our ideas of terror in a world where dread and violence are perpetrated by the government, police officers, students, and neighbors hiding behind social media aliases. Throughout, Beaven's poems engage. Teaching the Baby to Say I Love You examines our present, often chaotic world, with a powerful weapon — gripping, contemplative, and complex language.
Craig Beaven's collections of poetry are Teaching the Baby to Say I Love You (Anhinga Prize for Poetry, 2021), Natural History (Gerald Cable Book Award, 2019) and Teaching English Lit on the Day After a Shooting (CutBank Chapbook Prize, 2022). He is the recipient of fellowships and scholarships to the Sewanee Writers Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Martha's Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Western Humanities Review, Carolina Quarterly, Hollins Critic, Atlanta Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, the Best New Poets anthology, and many others. A Kentucky native, Beaven earned an MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University and a PhD from the University of Houston. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
"From the first pages of Craig Beaven's memorable book, I care — deeply — about this speaker and his characters. Here is a white father trying to protect his Black children in a treacherous world. Here is a teacher whose students are twisted up in the maelstrom of racism and staggering gun violence." - Ellen Bass
"Craig Beaven's language isn't neutral or safe or defensive — it wrestles with the never-ending violence of racism and school shootings. There's no gulf between the personal and the public here." - Eduardo C. Corral
"Worry is central to these elegant, meditative poems, yet Beaven finds opportunities to hold fear and wonder simultaneously. His poems are reminders that gentle revelations can inoculate even as they help us to embrace the momentary joys around us." - Adrian Matejka
"With insight into the constant, complicated work of the teacher and the parent, Craig Beaven leads his reader with narrative verve and emotional keenness through waves of accruing implication and out far into the deep, troubled waters of race, violence, and our country's ever-unfolding, always troubled present moment." - Carrie Fountain