Posts Tagged ‘Jim Daniels’

Working-Class Monday

My students often view poetry as obscure and “too hard to understand.”  Nick Coles, however, advocates that poetry rooted in the everyday experience is meaningful — he reviews two great working-class poetry collections on the Youngstown’s working-class studies blog.   I haven’t read Jeanne Bryner’s newest collection yet, but I did a quick review of Jim Daniels’ From Milltown to Malltown here.

From Milltown to Malltown

I have always been fascinated with collaborations between writers and visual artists, and I have always loved the work of Jim Daniels (he was one of the first poets I discovered who wrote about the “stuff” I knew — working class life, factory work, etc..) so of course I picked up From Milltown to Malltown (Marick Press) by Jim Daniels, Jane McCafferty (the poets) and Charlee Brodksy (the photographer) to add to my collection.

What has happened to the Rust Belt?  From Milltown to Malltown explores one possible answer to this question. This collection explores Homestead, Pennsylvania.  For those of you who need to brush up a bit on your working class history, Homestead is the site of the famous strike of 1892 when the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers fought for better wages.  A battle took place when 300 Pinkerton detectives arrived to fight the union and the strike. 

Today, according to the introduction of the book, there is little left to remind us of that famous event in American history. In 1987 the mill was closed for good, and razed.  Now, the Waterfront shopping center stands in its place. 

This collection places photographs of physical landmarks (chainlink fences, closed shops, old homes, churches) next to photographs of people (workers, mothers, children, etc..) who either work or live (or both!) in Homestead. Every photograph has its own poem.  One poem is a villanelle about shopping; another poem is a prose poem that speaks about the past.  Some poems take on Homestead and its place in history; other works focus on individual lives of the present.  My favorite poem is titled “Hello, My Name is Eric and I’m…” is about a minimum wage worker. 

Poet Dorianne Laux on the back cover blurb calls this collection “Disturbing, elegiac, and at times, wickedly wry, the chemistry between Brodsky’s bleak, beautiful spare photos and the poets’ renegade imaginations jolts us in the way art must.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Slipstream & Other Notes

I got my contributor’s copy of Slipstream on Thursday and I haven’t had time to look at the contents.  But I’m sitting here on a rainy Saturday morning, skimming the pages, pleased to see that I am joined by spectacular poets Brent Goodman, Katie Cappello, Jim Daniels and Sean Thomas Dougherty. As always, the guys at Slipstream did a beautiful job, and I can’t wait to go to the release party in Buffalo in September.

I’ve been trying to gather up my work for the summer in order to revise.  I have been browsing the blogging world noticing that many poets have already dived in to the “Big Fall Submission” period.  Not me.  I will be lucky if I have 3 packets sent out in September. 

Still behind on my book reviews.  Sigh.  Don’t worry — if you sent me a review copy, a review you shall have!

Back to the Day Job

Tomorrow, I’m back to school, although classes don’t start until Monday.  I’ve been super busy scheduling students, working with new courses, and prepping for my own classes (I got a neat new idea for using poems as prompts in a developmental writing class — we will see how it goes…).  I will probably disappear from blogland until the weekend, so I will leave you with this:  take a look at Jim Daniels’ discussion of his poem “Explicit” over at How a Poem Happens.