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 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.
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.
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This short poem by Thomas Lux, whom we sadly lost a couple of years ago, is one I like to read often. It is so much a poem for today and it expresses one of our least admirable human traits with just the right balance of truth and humor. His mantra “we do this, they do that” capsulizes perfectly how little we have changed in 10,000 years.