D. R. James is the author of the poetry collections If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press 2017) and Since Everything Is All I've Got (March Street Press 2011) and five poetry chapbooks: A Little Instability without Birds (Finishing Line Press 2006), Lost Enough (Finishing Line Press 2007), Psychological Clock (Pudding House Publications 2007), Why War (Finishing Line Press, July 2014), and Split-Level (Finishing Line Press 2017). Poems have appeared in the anthologies Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry (New Issues Press 2013) and Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford (Woodley Press 2013), and in publications such as Diner, Dunes Review, Galway review, Hotel Amerika, Mas Tequila Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Oberon, Old Northwest Review, Passager, Rattle, Ruminate, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, and Sycamore Review. James earned an M.A. in literature and composition from the University of Iowa and an M.F.A. in poetry from Pacific University. He lives in Saugatuck, Michigan, and has been teaching writing, literature, and peace-making at Hope College for 33 years.
About If god were gentle poet Kwame Dawes (author of City of Bones and Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems) says: "There is, in D. R. James’s elegiac collection, If god were gentle, a surfeit of intelligence and sentiment even as he engages the most ordinary stations of our living. The familiar—parenting, loving, dying—is re-visioned with distinct poetic beauty that is preserved in the “salt and ice” of disciplined craft and gentle irony. James is a reliable and consistent observer of our times who, thankfully, brings to his verse the welcome vulnerability demanded of truth-seekers."
And poet Susan Blackwell Ramsey (author of A Mind Like This) says: "While titles like "Writing My Way Out of This Paper Bag" and "Right Before Whatever the Next Thing Is Kicks In" are irresistible, at the heart of If god were gentle is a determination to confront pain and regret with language, language that slices away excuses and self-defense. This is an act of bravery."
About Split-Level poet Jack Ridl (author of Practicing to Walk Like a Heron and Losing Season) says: "D.R. James has a way of working in first person that requires the poet to put aside the diary and journaling just for now. He takes us, not to himself, but through himself into experiences that should bring out the best in us. His "I" is a place where vulnerability has a collision with whatever comes along. James is not searching for the Paradisio. He hunkers down into the well-earned safety of being right here."
And Best of the Net poet Rob Kenagy says: "In Split-Level, garages become temples, sons become oceans, and the poet becomes a crow navigating connection and collapse. These poems are located and lost. Caught and dislodged. Familiar and full of awe. D. R. James breathes into us an awareness of life's strange realities with reverence, tenderness, and humor. The past and the present play across the page like the memory of a cornfield plowed under by a subdivision."
About Why War Dawes says: "D. R. James's value to us lies in how he faces the idea of now with all its uncertainties, complications, and mundane realities, and then, as if driven by a missionary compulsion, he makes elegant, moving, and insightful poems about this 'nowness' of death, divorce, war, and much else. This is the immediacy and compelling force of Why War. James has no answers, but he has a sharp wit, a capacity for emotional risk, and a contagious delight in language. Give me that, any day."
About Since Everything Is All I've Got poet Fred Marchant (author of The Looking House and Full Moon Boat) says: "This is D.R. James's book of wonders. It brims with the hard-earned wonder that comes through love and loss, and through his assay of the mysteries of the heart, the psyche, or the soul. In the spirit of Thoreau, these poems plumb the depths of experience, probing as far as language and feeling will allow. Distrustful of sham or self-delusion, James is nonetheless hopeful and in search of what is authentic, reliable, and real at the center, something that literally re-minds us that we are vividly alive. These poems chart his journey to those moments when we sense that our lives--in joy and in sorrow--are truly here and inescapably now and everything is all we have."
And memoirist/poet Rhoda Janzen (author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and Babel's Stair) says: "These poems have it all--birds, solipsism, bat shit! How grateful we should be that contemporary free verse can make us laugh, wince, and shrug, all at the same time. D.R. James picks his poems like battles. He knows which ones he can win."
About A Little Instability without Birds Ridl says: "D.R. James's poems pull us away from the terrible onslaught of daily distractions and lead us back to what matters. He invites us to settle down, maybe in an isolated cabin where the coffee's hot, the weather cold, and introduces us to a guy who has dealt with it, a guy who welcomes us then talks about what is most disquieting while pointing us toward the reasons to look out the window. We feel somehow comforted and grateful just to be still in the mysterious world."
And about Lost Enough Ridl says: "In these poems, sculpted with artful integrity, D.R. James re-imagines that most ancient of paradoxes: The way to find one's way is to lose one's way. In Lost Enough--and notice that wry 'enough'--we do indeed find ourselves lost in an ambiguous gestalt, one where the distinction between self and world, inner and outer experience, the blessed and the cursed, the comic and the sorrowful is not merely blurred, but disappears. James's narrator is as fluid and amorphous as melting snow as he allows the world around him to become part of his own inner landscape. He then looks out upon his external landscape with realizations that enable him (and by extension us) to be brought back from the dread."