Say Yes Book Review By Jim Bennett on August 23, 2013
Literary, not trivial, deserving patience and insight.
Star counts collapse into a single digit, while daniels (sic, no capitals) has provided us with forty-two poems, most of which are a bit challenging. If you expect your poetry to be immediately accessible, I'll point out a few `easier' pieces later in this review. If you are a poetry reader who likes depth and subtlety, then this collection will satisfy you for sure.
Every poem has an introductory quote from Rumi. These help to set the mood. The poems themselves do have references, both classical and modern; you are advised to Google any person, figure, place, reference of which you are not absolutely certain. Your pleasure will be increased, and on a second reading, everything will automatically make sense. Do re-read, this book deserves your time.
The work has shining images in it throughout. For example in Wraps we find this: `She sits alone wrapped in her green coat/ like an eagle writhing to burst her shell.' In Diabolical Hands we have: `Black stockings reach for her thighs.' The images are simultaneously visual and physical.
Each poem gives you an experience. You may be the `friend' of a famous person, someone watching a street or a woodlot, or someone being disappointed in a relationship. For example, in The Intrusion we find: `I, laughing/ while you growled your masculinity' and: `Moving forward, our paths divided/ as we talked of friendship.'
If you're scrolling looking for the tiny carps, they are exceedingly hard to make. Once or twice I thought daniels could have given us more clues, as the unity of a poem was at first not obvious. An example of this occurs in The Fish Hook, until I equated the screaming robins of today with the crying girl of the remembered occasion. You'll figure this out.
On a first reading, some poems were a bit more accessible than others, at least to this reviewer. I found Snow Bombs, March Gravesite Visit, and The Gallery Visit to be fairly straightforward, although the imagery in all of these is fresh as everywhere else here. Less-patient readers might start with these pieces.
My personal favourites here include Nancy's Woodcut, where a complex relationship between artist and subject, self-expression and the lack of it, are brought home at the meek and accepting conclusion. Again, in Drawing in Charcoal, a strange sense of self-portrait being part of an artist's work is merged with merely having black hands at the end.
Relationships are explored and exposed in another favourite, Blinking Neon, where you will find: `your solemn voice/ split the silence/ with your denial/ while lightening bugs blinked neon'. You need to know about Gatsby and read the whole poem to realize the full force of these apparently simple lines.
Finally, in Clinging Snow, we have an exquisite extended metaphor for someone in a strange state of recovery, or lack of it, after a relationship.
Back to the star count. My personal guidelines, when doing an `official' KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. These are not trivial poems. That said, if you give yourself and daniels the time and thought you both deserve, you will find those five stars are warranted. Highly recommended.
Jim Bennett, Kindle Professional Reviewer--Five Stars.