Marc Beaudin, a former Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation artist-in-residence, is a poet, theatre artist and bookseller in Livingston, Montana, with work widely anthologized in publications dedicated to environmental and social justice. He is the author of Life List: Poems – a sort of field guide to the birds in poetry, the hitchhiking memoir Vagabond Song: Neo-Haibun from the Peregrine Journals, and the spoken word/jazz album, From Coltrane to Coal Train: An Eco-Jazz Suite, featuring music by members of the bands Morphine, Twinemen and Orchestra Morphine. He has performed his poetry and spoken word at numerous bookstores, bars, cafés, and theatres throughout the country, as well as being featured on public and independent radio stations. He has directed and designed over 30 productions for the stage, and has written several produced plays. Despite all available evidence, he believes the Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D is more powerful than all the guns, smokestacks and coal trains in the world.
The Full Story (more or less):
Marc was born in Bay City, Michigan on Easter Sunday and the anniversary of John Booth’s final theatre performance. He claims to have nothing to do with either event. He lived in a house of skeleton keys, in a neighborhood of back alleys, broken down fences and good climbing trees. He spent his childhood absorbing the toxins of Dow Chemical, General Motors and dog knows who else. He was educated mostly in the forests and lakes of northern Michigan, but also at Saginaw Valley State University with a degree in honors English.
After college, he stuck out his thumb and rode the highways and backroads to most every part of the U.S., as well as long stints in Mexico and Central America. Time off the road was mostly spent at Pablo’s Fortress, a dilapidated delirium-scape apartment above the long-gone Paul’s Liquor on Saginaw’s Southside, or at various cabins, tents and tipis among the pines and bracken ferns of Northern Michigan (Needmore’s Heaven, Needmore’s Next Door, Loon Point Camp, etc.) During these years, he published the chapbooks When God Was a Child, The Lost Writings of Miscellaneous Jones and Saginaw Songs (with fellow Saginista poet and comrade Al Hellus – RIP). He also published an autobiographical novel titled A Handful of Dust and edited an anti-war anthology called Jihad bil Qalam: To Strive by Means of the Pen. Somewhere in the middle of all this, he fronted the poetry band Miscellaneous Jones.
Other homes and respites from the road have included Symposia, a wrinkle on the map of reality, and Squatemala, an anarchist, independent nation at war with the City Noxious Weed Task Force, where the [legendary] Organic Beef Compound had their first and last performance. While at Symposia, he worked with the iconic Bedlam Theatre and published the first (and last) issue of CaNneD: A Sympographic Journal of Bedlam. While at Squatemala, he helped found and run the radical theatre and arts collective the 303.
At the 303, as well as Pit & Balcony Community Theatre and the Bay City Players, he directed, designed and wrote dozens of plays, with favorites including Amadeus, Macbeth, The Exonerated, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, Little Shop of Whores and The Women of Lockerbie.
Eventually, he found his way to the northern Rockies and the “Grizfork Studio,” a one-room cabin in the shadow of the Absarokas near Livingston, Montana. Writings there as well as various Saginaw locations resulted in the collection The Moon Cracks Open: A Field Guide to the Birds and Other Poems. In 2011, he moved into Livingston where he and his cousin opened the used book store, Elk River Books.
Writings from Livingston include Vagabond Song: Neo-Haibun from the Peregrine Journals, called a “jazzy, freewheeling, rollicking road trip into the heart of the Eternal Now” by The Montana Quarterly, and Life List: Poems, named a 2020 Honor Book Winner by the Montana Book Award. He also co-edited Unearthing Paradise: Montana Writers in Defense of Greater Yellowstone, and is the book reviewer for Big Sky Journal.
In Montana, his theatre work continues (though at a less-frenetic pace). He founded the Caldera Theatre Company, and also works with Bozeman Actors Theatre, the Blue Slipper Theatre and Montana InSite Theatre. Productions include Proof, Sartre’s No Exit, that he translated & adapted from the French original, and short plays by Chekhov, Tennessee Williams and David Ives.
Performing poetry with musical accompaniment also continues with collaborations with The Northwoods Improvisers, The Big Sky Jazz Trio, Billy Conway (Morphine), Bill Payne (Little Feat), Parker Brown, Mike Cloud Devine, Dave Casario, Buff Brown, and others. For a brief time, there was another poetry band, Remington Streamliner, with Kevin Toll, Johnny Regan and Lenny America Woodward.
Today, Beaudin is enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to John Coltrane, and hoping there will be more to this biography before he returns to the crossroads one last time.