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2006 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry "Daniels can turn a poem in unexpected directions, and he has an ear for real American phrasing—nothing pumped up, inflated, 'Poetic' with a capital 'P.' Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies is the real stuff: honest, very well made, engaging, and loaded with irony and humor."—Christopher Buckley, author of Sleepwalk: California Dreamin' and a Last Dance with the '60s On Places/Everyone "These poems are a refreshment. They hiss and steam with the street's vibrant hardness, the effort ...
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2006 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry "Daniels can turn a poem in unexpected directions, and he has an ear for real American phrasing—nothing pumped up, inflated, 'Poetic' with a capital 'P.' Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies is the real stuff: honest, very well made, engaging, and loaded with irony and humor."—Christopher Buckley, author of Sleepwalk: California Dreamin' and a Last Dance with the '60s On Places/Everyone "These poems are a refreshment. They hiss and steam with the street's vibrant hardness, the effort to look around the corner, pain in the eyes after a long day's work."—Carolyn Forché, author of Blue Hour Jim Daniels has published nine collections of poetry, as well as screenplays and short fiction. His poems have appeared in the Pushcart Prize and the Best American Poetry anthologies. Daniels lives in Pittsburgh, where he directs the Creative Writing Program at Carnegie Mellon University.
You bring out the boring white guy in me
Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies
Firing the Late Person
The Land of 3000 Dreams
Capital Punishment: Lethal Injection
Hung Out to Dry
The ability of the corpse
These days they're wearing their halos right
Sizing the Ring
Cry Room, St. Mark's Church
Summer Strike at the Axle Plant
Rocking at the DQ
Charles Holmes blew up the chem lab
Efficiency, Bowling Green, OH
Bridal Dance, Redux
Take Your Pills
Waiting Room, Children's Hospital, Pittsburgh
Illuminating the Saints
Nocturne in Blue
Sledding in America
About the Author
Posted April 7, 2012
Ahh, the vulnerability. If you've ever been a novelist or poet with writers block (or a reader with readers block), Daniels can be that author that shows you what ironic, humorous, sad and wonderful things can come out of the smallest of memories, the most quotidian of moments. For my psyche, "Revolt of the Crash Test Dummies" is an 80-page reminder that I don't need to be a struggling artist to have lots to write about and that it's possible to connect and commune with the pain and struggles of others through the windows in my house.
Some of the well-known poems from start of the book - "You Bring Out the Boring White Guy In Me," "Firing the Late Person," "Capital Punishment: Lethal Injection" and "Poetry," have certainly made the rounds in swirling Portland literary event and open mic circles. I levitated toward the growing up, I'm-in-my-20s pieces in the middle of the book. One of my favorites was this one:
"Efficiency, Bowling Green, OH"
I lived in an ancient motel turned into efficiencies
barely big enough for the double bed.
Two electric burners and a sink.
Four friends from Michigan came to visit.
So happy to see them, I poured beer
over their heads, up their sleeves. They in turn
did not hurt me. I'd started smoking again.
I blamed the whole state of Ohio. In that small town
you could walk everywhere and nowhere
and in between. Three bars-two with the word
"Dead" in their names. The wind smacked us upside
our drunken little heads. One friend, a woman,
shared the bed with Marc. The rest of us lay
on indoor-outdoor carpet in a U-shape around them.
We listened to each other breath in that stinky room....
....I slept at the foot of the bed
and was almost never happier. Four friends.
If I was a dog, I'd have licked their feet.
The U can be a beautiful letter, softly catching
falling things... My friends convinced me to use
my porch light for its radiant yellow,
its optimistic glow. In case somebody might
come home, even if it was only me.
The pendulum swings so quickly between happy and sad moments, it adds depth to both extremes. A lot of dark stories try to redeem them selves with somewhat of a happy ending. Some of these poems do the opposite, connecting you to what's more actual in everyday life.
Daniels can be humble and edgy at the same time and never writes poetry that can lose its authenticity through poetic niceties or grandiose metaphor. There's a ton of skill here. Just nothing that closes the door to what's real and right in front.