on May 2, 2012
It is no secret that I am huge fan of the work of Jim Daniels. I love his poetry's ability to illuminates life's larger themes by simply being honest about the seemingly ordinary, taking time to really examine moments we have lived through, events we witness everyday, thoughts the float through everyone's mind, but we are too busy to notice.
"All of the Above," an incredibly beautiful limited edition letter-pressed volume of poetry, follows this tradition, and takes it a few steps further by presenting a collection of ghazals, or at least 24 poems which "loosely follow" a non-traditional definition of a ghazal. Whatever guidelines Daniels used to create these stunning poems -- each containing five self-contained couplets, which Daniels assures readers are not intentionally related -- they thrill and move, shimmer and spark.
"No matter who much I shadowbox" Daniels writes in one poem, "the gravediggers still blow on their hands."
"I scratched my dresser knobs with the initials of my dreams," he writes in another, "G for girls. I forget the rest."
"When I squished a rat in my driveway," he tells in another, "I smiled because it was not my child's head."
Days after reading the book, I found couplets coming back to me as I stumbled upon examples of their honesty in my own day-to-day life. "Sometimes I fall in love / just watching someone chew gum" he confesses for all of us. "The poor heart. All it wants / is to keep us alive." And what writer doesn't identify with Daniels when he writes, "Look at my hands. They are strangers. / And one of them is holding a pen."
"All of the Above" is filled with these strange truths, presented humbly and unadorned. I highly recommend this book, and hope it makes more fans of the work of this incredible poet.