Morris Beaumont (1897-1969). Painter and poet. “Primitive” artist from Blue Mill, Tennessee. Having spent most of his life running a feed store in his home town, he was discovered by Jack Kerouac in the early Sixties, who found one of Beaumont’s chapbooks in a Nashville bookstore and took his work to Viking. Beaumont’s only published book, Creek Music (1967), went nowhere, but his editor at Viking saw some of Beaumont’s artwork in the basement of his home in Blue Mill, and took it to a New York gallery. He briefly became a cause célèbre in the art world, but was already passé by the time he died on New Year’s Day 1969.
A backcountry grief
that beats mules
when they won’t go,
won’t tote, won’t serve;
beats in waves of rage
locked in the airless
sealed jar of day:
blind, brutal, fiery blue,
set far off, seen in a hawk’s eye —
goddamned goddamned goddamned mule!
Beaumont’s most famous painting, “A Rural Idyll” (knife cut and ink wash on wood), praised by William Burroughs as “one of the purest expressions of American strangeness I’ve ever seen.”