He’s a poet and he knows it: Professor Mark Beggs: musician, writer, and teacher

Story by Bunky Raines Student Reporter

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 Many poets seem to have a passion that emanates from them like waves from a pond peddle. Marck L. Beggs, Professor of English, is no exception. He has published four books of poetry: “God Worm,” “Libido Cafe,” “Catastrophic Chords,” and “Blind Verse.” 

He is also a singer/songwriter/guitar player. His band, “god dogs,” has two self-released CDs, “White Water Tavern” and “I am large: I contain multitudes,” available at cdbaby.com. 

Beggs can seem timid upon first glance. The next moment, a student who has overstepped their bounds may find themselves penetrated by the steel-blue gaze of eyes not timid in the least. 

However, this sometimes unexpected sharpness is eclipsed by an enormous heart with a capacity for kindness even for those with whom he might not agree. He often wields a sly wit. Looking closer, one can catch a glimpse of some unnamed pain that lies hidden beneath the usually-cheerful surface. 

These qualities can be observed, not only in his classroom, but in his poetry, as well. Like all good poetry, it bares the writer’s soul through truth and beauty. “Even when addressing you point-blank with a startling directness, Beggs can show a softer side.” stated Terry Wright for the Arkansas Review. Wright also stated that his book, “Libido Cafe,” positioned him as one of Arkansas’ most compelling contemporary poets. 

“I never planned to be a teacher,” Beggs said “I thought I could make money writing great American poetry. Boy, was I wrong. I’m here by accident.” 

Beggs said he considers his second book, “Libido Cafe,” to be his first. It includes all of the poetry of his first book, “God Worm,” as well as a wide variety of other poetry. A favorite poem featured in Libido Cafe is “Visions of Love,” a heartbreaking tale about getting beat up, literally as well as figuratively, by love. 

…you will marry 

and live somewhat-ever-after 

with a woman who swears 

she loves you. Swears it, 

sweating beneath a hot, 

humid blanket, before 

she tugs open your underpants 

and shoves a wild, screeching 

kitten 

among your softest parts. 

Beggs’ third book, “Catastrophic Chords,” is more thematic than the first two. A good portion of the book is poetic dialog between Henry David Thoreau, author of “Walden,” and Ted Kaczynski, the unabomber. 

“They had a lot in common,” Beggs said. “They both lived in cabins out in the woods. The unabomber thought he was an environmentalist, only his way of helping the environment was to kill everybody.” 

Beggs’ fourth book was a kind of travelogue from his adventures in Iceland, Scotland and Ireland, partially based on the mythologies of the places. The second half of the book focused more on his parents and wife. 

Those who know Beggs professionally write glowing reviews of his work. “Beggs is the real thing, working with form and word flavor as well as the cruel and flashing blade of unsettling insight,” Stated Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat – Gazette. “[His] work is keen and strong and sometimes awash in sorrow. Sometimes they are funny. And a vein of bitter truth runs through them all.” 

Those who know him personally feel their lives have been enriched by his presence. “He’s a mentor to me and someone I look to with respect professionally and as my friend.” Said alumna, Andi Davis. “20 years later, I feel like he still cares about me personally. He’s a f***ing rockstar of academia and one of the most interesting friends I have.”