Recorded January 25 by The Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle, a PSM member group. (Click the Photo)
Thomas Lynch’smost recent of twelve books are The Depositions—New & Selected Essays (W.W. Norton, 2020) and Bone Rosary—New & Selected Poems (David R. Godine, 2021). He is finishing a novel which he fears might finish him. He keeps homes in Michigan and West Clare, Ireland.
The Ludington Writers’ anthology, Making Waves, is open for submissions of poetry, prose and visual art from January 1st through April 30th for our fall 2023 issue. Ludington Writers is a PSM Member Organization
The ghost behind these haunted and haunting poems is the bittersweet and stunningly detailed memory of his formative years in blue-collar Detroit, echoed sometimes in his present home of Pittsburgh. The latter (much less the former) isn’t Paris, he admits, but then, “Fuck Paris.” With The Human Engineat Dawn,Jim Daniels remains among this country’s most gifted and engaging poets. —William Trowbridge, author of Call Me Fool
Jim Daniels. Singer of the broken city. Ishmael of lost families and foundered dreams. Virgil of what he calls “our poorly wired world.” These poems are deep dives into Daniels’ past, and a past Detroit. The portraits of his mother and father are unforgettable, both for their blunt, unsentimental honesty and their tenderness. Again and again Daniels manages to unearth bright shards of beauty in the bleak alleyways and poverty-haunted streets of the city. And there’s an ode here to his father’s bowling ball that will knock you down, that will roll you right back to the smoky, beer-soaked heart of the last century. The Human Engine at Dawn, in its dark and lyrical urgency, reminds me of why I came to poetry in the first place. —George Bilgere, author of Central Air
About the Author
Jim Daniels’ latest books includeGun/Shy(poetry),The Perp Walk(fiction), and the anthologyRESPECT: The Poetry of Detroit Music(coedited with M. L. Liebler). A native of Detroit, he lives in Pittsburgh and teaches in the Alma College low-residency MFA program.
I find the opening words of Postscript by Seamus Heaney difficult to ignore. “And some time make the time to drive out west…” What an invitation—gentle and imploring at the same time. An invitation that mirrors the natural setting he describes: “the ocean on one side is wild…. and inland among stones the surface of a slate grey lake…” The yin and yang woven throughout this short poem continues with his magnificent description of the swans, “tucked or cresting or busy underwater.” He captures a moment that never fails to blow me away.
“Gun/Shy” by Detroit’s own Jim Daniels is remarkable poetic storytelling. It opens with a description of him being held up at gunpoint at 16 while working in Warren. From there it takes the reader on a journey through growing up, growing older and reflecting on the world. “My whole life, I’ve been one letter off, for better, / for worse.” Daniels compares his life to other kids from the same part of town: “…we worked at the same factories/made the same money.” He often draws back to the imagery and experience of being held up, using it to reflect on his American experience. The last stanza shakes me every time, both for its content and its poetic elegance.
Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Kindness,” has been for me both a source of inspiration and solace. In this poem she takes us with her on an ordinary bus ride to remind us that “Before you know what kindness really is/you must lose things.” I have a sister who is terminally ill and it seems all I have to give her right now is kindness. But Nye tells us in this poem that kindness is the only thing “that makes sense anymore,” that it can go with us “everywhere/like a shadow or a friend.” In addition to this being a beautiful poem, it is a fine example of how poetry can bring grace when it seems there is none.
We are aware of the wealth of artistic talent beyond poetry among our membership. We would love to include your artwork, painting, drawing, pottery, quilting, stained glass, even doodles or simple line drawings for chapter pages! Please send .jpg photos of your work so we can make a collage or quilt style cover and headings for chapters. JPEG files should be at a resolution of at least 300 dots-per-inch. Email your submission as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hugo was an early hero of mine. He still is. His poems are rich and thick with imagery, and they’re fun to read out loud. But he’s also a poet not afraid to journey close to the edge of sentimentality in his writing and then move away. To me, the very best poems, like this one, combine emotion with images, feeling with sensory details in a style that moves us when we read. It’s obvious that this little town, Philipsburg, triggers the poem for Hugo, but the writing takes us below the surface of the human condition, reaching toward truth.