Beatrix Gates is a poet, translator, writer of creative non-fiction and librettist. She grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a life-long relationship to Maine and loves NYC. In significant time in San Francisco, she was captured by the Book Arts/Poetry scene and put together her first book of poems, native tongue, while at Antioch College. She graduated from Antioch (BA, 1973) and designed, printed and published native tongue under the hopalong press imprint in the same year. She went to NYC in 1980 to work with Jean Valentine at Sarah Lawrence (MFA, 1984) and met Jane Cooper, Grace Paley and Eva Kollisch, strong influences all.
Her poetry collections include Dos (Finishing Line Press), called by Jan Heller Levi, “the most moving, complex and important sequence of love poems I have read since Adrienne Rich’s 1977 ‘Twenty-One Love Poems.’” It comes from the ‘two caverns of the heart’ and the giant head of Benito Juarez, flickering and vibrating with the multiple meanings of love and history, and how they meet.”
Her collection, Ten Minutes, earned praise from Publisher’s Weekly: “Gates takes seriously both the daily news, with its constant abuses of power, and art’s power to create news that stays news.” Cornelius Eady has said about In the Open which was a Lambda Poetry Award finalist, “This is a poet who doesn’t blink yet has the power to transform the awkward and dangerous facts of our lives into healing song.“
Working with Electa Arenal, Gates translated contemporary Spanish poet Jesús Aguado’s The Poems of Vikram Babu (HOST), written in the voice of a 17th century Hindu mystic, and Gates & Arenal shared a Witter Bynner Award. In a Poets House program in NYC, Aguado, Arenal and Gates celebrated The Poems of Vikram Babu and discussed translation. In another collaboration, as conceiver and librettist of “The Singing Bridge,” Gates and composer Anna Dembska received support from the NEA, LEF and Davis Foundations and Maine Community Fund for the opera’s premiere produced by Maine’s Stonington Opera House.
Gates has published poetry and translations in The Kenyon Review, The Dirty Goat, Sirena, Tarpaulin Sky, Anthem, Bloom,and Tupelo Quarterly; non-fiction in A Woman Like That, and her essay on poet Jane Cooper is forthcoming in University of Michigan’s “Under Discussion” series. A returning fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Ucross Foundation, she will be Artist-in-Residence at QUEST University Canada in BC in 2016.
As Founder of Granite Press (1975-89), she published Grace Paley’s first book of poetry, Leaning Forward, and the bilingual IXOK AMAR.GO: Central American Women Poets for Peace. Granite Press began as a letterpress print shop where Gates designed and printed jobs and limited edition poetry broadsides and chapbooks. She edited The Wild Good: Lesbian Writing and Photographs on Love (Anchor) and created the l/ g/b/t/q bookstore A Different Light’s Poetry Series in NYC. She continues to promote poetry in many community settings.
She has taught writing and literature at NYU, Bedford Hills Correctional facility, BMCC, CCNY, Colby, Hampshire, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, The Writers Voice, Maine Maritime Academy and in the Maine Humanities Council Literature and Medicine program. She is a long-time member of the Goddard MFA faculty. She lives in Brooksville, Maine where she has collaborated on Poetry & Masks with weaver & farmer Ron King for the Farm/Arts Exchange, published poems in the local ‘zine, Afterthought and is a Board member of The Cannery at South Penobscot.
Beatrix Gates’ five poetry collections include Dos (Finishing Line Press) and the Lambda Award finalist, In the Open. She translated Jesús Aguado’s The Poems of Vikram Babu (HOST) with Electa Arenal and shared a Witter Bynner Award. As librettist and conceiver of the opera, “The Singing Bridge,” she shared NEA support with composer Anna Dembska for Maine’s Stonington Opera House premiere. Artist-in-Residence at QUEST University in 2016, she has been a returning fellow at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross Foundation. A member of the Goddard MFA faculty, she lives in Brooksville, Maine.
Brooksville photos: O. Lange