The Language of the Beard


As one who determined five years ago, after having shaved my beard off to remind myself what the natural contours of my face looked like, to never go without facial hair again, I’ve often wondered how others interpreted beards. Here’s one interesting take:

Pursuant to a spurt of badinage about how the release of cranial and facial hair through the pores unclutters the brain by relieving it of “follicular surplus,” Underwood arrives at the gist of his thesis: that there is a direct correlation between personal appearance and artistic proficiency and integrity, or what, in the case of the bewhiskered brethren of the literary fraternity, he elsewhere calls “poetic gravity” or beard weight. It might be said, in short, that Underwood’s motto is the beard makes the bard.

No wonder there are so few pictures of Emily Dickinson around today.

Brian Spears is Senior Poetry Editor of The Rumpus and the author of A Witness in Exile (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011). His poem “Upon Reading That Andromeda Will One Day Devour Triangulum and Come For Us Next” was featured in Season 9 of Motion Poems. More from this author →