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Special Powers and Abilities Paperback – October 23, 2012
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"In Special Powers and Abilities, Raymond McDaniel takes as his subject the perpetual allure of adolescence, where, like Ben-Day dots, emotions are simple, modular, primary-colored. . . .Out of these lurid tints and all-caps dialoguethe crude exuberance of youthMcDaniel constructs a subtle and haunting meditation on nostalgia, stitched of silk & almost oblivion” and the world to which you cannot return” is a universe in which unitards are donned for everyday wear and foil” can be used as a verb. To be alien” here is not to hail from an exotic planet, but instead to be stricken by adult self-consciousness: a mind, worn smooth by friction.”Monica Youn, National Book Award poetry finalist for Igntatz
"McDaniel doesn’t so much capture the voice of superheroes as he employs his special ability to render thememotionally, psychologicallywhich is a super power in itself. These poems are at once sublime and imaginative, earthy and other worldly, philosophical and sensible. The future of myth and fable lies between these pages, a future we once believed could be good, because/ once we believed a future could be.' Read these poems and believe again."A. Van Jordan
"Witty language fun for comic book fans and non-believers alike can be found in McDaniel's poetic homage to one of the greatest superhero teams in comics."Shelf Awareness
"The poems in this collection are fun, whimsical, but hiding within a secret identity. . . . [McDaniel's] poems have the only superpower a poet ever needs; they have something to say." Pleiades
[T]hese poems, by turns affectionate and furious, animate the loves and inner lives of the perpetual superteens who make up the Legion . . . Don't worry if you're not a Legion reader, though. McDaniel takes pains to open up the universe to those unfamiliar with it and many poems manage to function quite successfully as both exposition and poetry-no mean feat. . . . The poems careen between clever rhetorical acrobatics . . . and moments where language grows elastic, gorgeous, uncanny.”I09
"Special Powers and Abilities takes its inspiration from a long (and still!) running comic series about super-powered teenagers in a distant future. Through the intricate use of assorted poetic structures or devices, McDaniel investigates everything from teenage love triangles and last stands to mythological parallels and the limits of poetry and comics. . . . I found the arrangement of poems both magnanimous and exciting."BOMBlog
"In Special Powers and Abilities, McDanielin vocabulary and forms moving between opulently whiz-band comics-inspired, deliberately and humorously mundane, and wistfully lyricalnarratives key episodes and the loves and yearnings of some of the characters. In the process, he finds in his source material a remarkable degree of pathos and insight."Rain Taxi Review
"McDaniel uses these somewhat obscure characters, particularly Brainiac 5, to simultaneously critique and examine the universe of the comic, and also the human frailties common even to superheroes . . . McDaniel's affection for this comic-book world allows the reader to enter it with affection, too, and enjoy the poems whether or not they are familiar with the specifics of The Legion of Super-Heroes, or even comic book archetypes and tropes." The Rumpus
"McDaniel flexes his poetic muscles, making it clear that, as dedicated as he is to the history of the Legion, he is equally well versed in the subtleties of his craft. . . . This collection is suffused with the wonder, excitement, disappointment, and grief felt periodically by many fans of long-running comic series. By its end many readerscomic fanatics and newcomers alikemay find themselves initiated into the Legion of Super-Heroes."The Los Angeles Review
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Top Customer Reviews
The amazing thing is McDaniel's absolutely respectful attitude toward his materials -- which any other university poet would have used as the basis for camp.
It really is a wonderful book that bears repeated readings.