Something Shining: Poems

Something Shining: Poems

by Daniel Halpern

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Widely praised for his earlier collections, Daniel Halpern has grown steadily in stature and attainment. Now, with Something Shining, his first collection of new poems in seven years, he gives us an ambitious, wide-ranging meditation on birth, love, and maturity, marking a turning point in both his life and his work.

These beautifully crafted poems


Widely praised for his earlier collections, Daniel Halpern has grown steadily in stature and attainment. Now, with Something Shining, his first collection of new poems in seven years, he gives us an ambitious, wide-ranging meditation on birth, love, and maturity, marking a turning point in both his life and his work.

These beautifully crafted poems explore relations between lovers, between friends, between fathers and children. Written by the light of a young daughter's presence, in the distinctive lyrical language that Ted Hughes described as "so free and effortless and unerring," these poems ponder the fading of the body and the struggle that consciousness wages to keep the self afloat. And into this intimate world also enter a surprising array of characters: ancient Chinese poets and modern Cuban musicians, Charlie Parker, Chekhov, and the dervish mystic Rumi. But it is the poet's awareness of his own frailty ("the days run out--no longer oneself," he writes in "Fugue"), that, together with the extraordinary beauty he discovers in environments familiar and exotic, unifies this collection. The work of a poet at the top of his form, Something Shining confirms Halpern's place in our national literature.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews
Poet, world traveler, and eloquent food enthusiast, Daniel Halpern is also one of our leading literary editors. He founded and now directs Ecco Press, a literary press that consistently publishes outstanding books of poems and is now an imprint of HarperCollins. For 25 years, Halpern also edited Antaeus, a leading literary journal that he started with Paul Bowles.

This winter, two books that showcase Halpern's dual talents as writer and editor have been released, both of which show the fruits of several decades of literary labor. Something Shining is his eighth book of verse, and in it, for the first time, Halpern writes about the wonders of fatherhood. With a series of poems about his daughter's fingers, questions, and fears, Halpern details the change a young child can bring to a worldview. The Art of the Story, a lively anthology of contemporary short stories selected by Halpern, offers a peek into the varied worlds of writers from around the globe.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Elegies, ghazals, epigrams, travel poems, and domestic verses present Halpern (Foreign Neon) as an articulate, amiable, comfortable, middle-aged man contemplating, in this ninth collection, mortality, fatherhood, friendship, food and wine--sometimes separately, sometimes all at once. While alert to nuances of feeling, Halpern's lines lack acoustic and formal interest: many seem inert both aurally and intellectively. In one quietly celebratory poem, "We place beach chairs just beyond the tidal line/ and here we sit. Shorts and T-shirts. Yet not wholly here." "Direction" explains portentously "my path is not destined/ although the one direction now is forward." "Midnight: Triadic Ghazal" makes this its central image: "In the dark we walk through rooms/ familiar as questions/ asked of us over and over." And in the entirely predictable "Dance," "The evening moves on the heat of the rhythm." Sometimes Halpern seems to be trying for camp, as in the bathetic Latinity of "Infestation" ("gentle sleep/ that's said to be indispensable/ for cerebral stability") or at the end of "Beauty & Restraint": "even the sun, hovering in this paradise,/ eventually goes down." But most of the poems come across as sincere and slack, with the genuinely campy "Carnival Food" and "Carnival Mood," and a diverting sestina-like poem in five-line stanzas, coming across as the only real inventions. Halpern seems content with careful records of his feelings and deeds. It's hard to imagine readers will feel the same. (Nov.) FYI: Halpern co-founded the Ecco Press, now a Harper imprint, and remains its editorial director. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
For 30 years, Halpern has demonstrated multiple literary talents as cofounder (with the late Paul Bowles) of the literary magazine Antaeus, publisher of Ecco Press (and then, postacquisition, editorial director of Ecco Press: HarperCollins), gourmet-traveler (Halpern's Guide to Essential Restaurants in Italy), and editor of quality anthologies. As with prior work (e.g., Tango, LJ 1/87), the poems in his ninth book of poetry reveal how much he cares about classic writers (Chekhov, Li Po, Machado), the New England coast ("the hillside terraced to the sea/ with flowers"), and things of light (in language and nature). Like art itself, the subjects of this poetry--conversation, music, vintage wine--are composed of "things fitting together, whether in the hand/ or mind." Tributes to his daughter ("our first light"), loving and more personal, give these stylish poems a delicate sense of passing time and by extension signify a larger world of family, friendship, and "the pure pleasure/ of sharing one thing with another." "High/ above the darkening," Halpern's eye is on "something shining."--Frank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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Read an Excerpt

Zeno's Lemur

Isn't he the man with crimson socks
and the slow loris climbing
like the hour hand from his shoulder,
over his ear and up
to the pale dome of his head?

The man's face shines with affection.
He's an honest man and his pet,
lackadaisical but not dispassionate,
is devoted and clear about the nature
of their relationship. There are times

to eat and times to climb, the two things
a loris is always in the act of.
As the man turns, nearly in slow motion,
the slow loris peers
from behind his left ear and a smile

begins to spread like a sunrise
on his face. A word
takes shape in his mouth as his hands
reach into the air--reach out
as the word moves forward,

a word of arrival, recognition hovering before him.

Daughter & Chai

It's a sunny day in the middle of the year,
    My daughter in a new white dress
        suns herself in a very bright green beach chair.

She's too young to sit there for long,
    just long enough to pursue a dream,
        a single longing: a sweet, a new toy.

The sun is steady, late afternoon. She's an only child
    and we worry she's lonely, even when dressed up
        and dreaming. If we ask her she pretends not to hear

and pulls at her reddish hair, looking off.
    If we ask again she'll say, Yes, lonesome.
        There's only the one sun and it shines in her eyes.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Daniel Halpern was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1945 and has lived in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, and Tangier, Morocco. The author of seven previous collections of poems, Halpern is editorial director of The Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins. He has received many grants and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Halpern divides his time between New York City and Princeton, New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

From the Hardcover edition.

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