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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Review of Far Cry Poems by Tom Daley

Mischief meets elegiac mournfulness in Tom Daley’s new chapbook, Far Cry, in which the poet summons up the ghost of a close but estranged gay friend and searches through evocative imagery and shared memories for an understanding, a resolution, and, most of all, a final embrace. Unexpected religious and erotic juxtapositions deliver both edgy wit and good-natured humor.  And, most impressively, throughout this poetic sequence, Daley utilizes impeccable word choices that result in very high-level, almost objectified, confessional pieces. In short, Daley’s diction sparkles. For more of my review go here:  http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2022/06/far-cry-poems-by-tom-daley.html

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Review of The Wild Goose Poems by Kevin Gallagher

No writer distills history utilizing the form of poetic narrative better than Kevin Gallagher. In his latest effort, The Wild Goose Poems, Gallagher delves into Irish Americana, its background, and its sources. He uses a first-person sequence of poems on the rebel Irishman, then iconic Bostonian, John Boyle O’Reilly as the centerpiece of his collection. The poet leads into that sequence with a retelling of Celtic myth and finishes the book with a combination of classical myth and both local (Southie) and family lore. Think beginning, middle, and end. And that’s the way it reads. For more of my review of The Wild Goose Poems go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2022/06/the-wild-goose-poems-by-kevin-gallagher_14.html

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Review of Time Is A Mother by Ocean Vuong

Decadent. Robotic. Thinly constructed with self-indulgent metaphors. No, I do not like Ocean Vuong’s new collection of poems, Time Is A Mother. In fairness, I am biased and motivated because of a breathless, over-the-top review of Vuong’s first book, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, published in the New Yorker in 2016. That hyperbolizing reviewer claimed that Vuong would somehow “fix” the English language. Nonsense.

 However, Vuong, an American poet, born in Vietnam in 1988, did, as the inside flap of his new hardcover book reminds us, win the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize, and a 2019 MacArthur Genius Grant. For more of my review of Time Is a Mother go here:  https://dougholder.blogspot.com/2022/05/time-is-mother-by-ocean-vuong.html

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Review of On Earth As It Is by Michael Steffen

Matter-of-factness takes center stage in Michael Todd Steffen’s magnificent collection of poetry entitled On Earth As It Is. Acceptance, albeit with enormous curiosity, seems meted into each poem’s very marrow and, with it, the poet’s cogent observations. No confessional spattering here. Only hard detail, telling irony, and all-weather humor.  

Steffen’s objectivity stems from an apparent deep-seated stoicism not unsimilar to the rather dry meditations left by Marcus Aurelius (Consider Aurelius’ belief that externals do not enter a person’s essence. Quite the opposite.). The complexity of this book is evident even in its title, which exhibits a connection to the Lord’s Prayer and brings with it another meaning entirely. For more of my review of On Earth As It Is go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2022/05/on-earth-as-it-is-by-michael-todd.html

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

My chapbook Alcaics for Major Robert Rogers Published

My chapbook Alcaics for Major Robert Rogers, published by Wilderness House, has just arrived. It is now available at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop (6 Plympton St., Cambridge, MA, (617)- 547-4648) and will be at other independent book stores soon after. 

I'll also sign copies at the bi-weekly Saturday meetings of the Bagel Bards in Porter Square, Cambridge.  It is available at Lulu today and will be available at Amazon in four or five weeks. Here is the link for Lulu. https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/dennis-daly/alcaics-for-major-robert-rogers/paperback/product-qmdj5v.html?page=1&pageSize=4

The chapbook includes one poem of 72 stanzas, a prologue and an introduction, as well as notes, a map, Rogers' Rules of Ranging,. some historical pictures, and a bibliography.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Two of my Poems, Ode on Today's Canonization of Jacinta and Francisco Marto & At St Mary's Monophysic Church in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Published in Wilderness House

Two of my poems, Ode on Today's Canonization of Jacinta and Francisco Marto & At St Mary's Monophysic Church in Diyarbakir, Turkey, were just published by Wilderness House. They are part of a manuscript entitled Odd Man Out currently seeking a publisher. Thank you to editors Steve Glines and Ravi Yelamanchilli. Here is the link:  https://www.whlreview.com/no-17.1/poetry/DennisDaly.pdf

Friday, March 11, 2022

Review of No Time for Death by Harris Gardner

 “Oh death, where is thy sting?”  1 Corinthians had it right. So does Harris Gardner in his affecting affirmation of life, fittingly entitled No Time for Death. Slicing through humanity’s Gordian knot of denial, Gardner confronts mortality with memory and poetic craft, assisted by a large dose of wit. His stratagems are nothing if not down-to-earth and sensible. The collection’s three subtitles convey Gardner’s personified logic: An Argument with Time, Contemplating Mortality Instead of My Navel, and Negotiating for an Afterlife. For more of my review go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2022/03/no-time-for-death-by-harris-gardner.html

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Covers of Alcaics for Major Robert Rogers

Here are the covers of my new book, Alcaics for Major Robert Rogers. It consists of one poem with 72 stanzas in Alcaic meter, an introduction, a prologue, notes and a selected bibliography. It should be out by mid-April or thereabouts.

Thank you to Wilderness House Press and its editor Steve Glines for his excellent design and placement of historical pictures within the collection.

And also, thank you to poet Ed Meek for his kind words on the back cover.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Review of The Star of Dazzling Ecstasy by Alexander Pushkin, Translated by Philip Nikolayev

Most English translations of Alexander Pushkin convey facets of the poet’s singular, Russian genius, but never give the full sense of it. Even Vladimir Nabokov’s attempted literal translation of Eugene Onegin seems to fall flat. One exception to this is Charles Johnson’s impressively formalist translation of Eugene Onegin and other longish Pushkin poems. Now we have another exception, and an extraordinary one at that, Philip Nikolayev’s new bilingual book of selected Pushkin poems, entitled The Star of Dazzling Ecstasy.

 Nikolayev’s translations mimic the Russian originals, using English rhyme and meter, to create accurate versions of Pushkin’s pieces. This translator-poet sets up 79 of Pushkin’s lyrical poems in chronological order, brilliantly exhibiting both range and elegance. For more of my review go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2022/02/the-star-of-dazzling-ecstasy-79-poems.html

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Limits of Minimalism in Poetry

Steven Ratiner recently published an interesting and thoughtful argument in the Red Letter Poem Series (found on Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene (http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2022/01/red-letter-poem-94.html) exploring minimalism and concreteness in poetry, especially as it applies to poet Aram Saroyan. Ratiner quoted Seamus Heaney and tapped into the opinions of such poets and non-poets as Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Ronald Reagan and Jesse Helms. Below is a brief, humble, and somewhat incomplete answer to Ratiner’s arguments.

 Minimalization in its extreme ends in madness. Seamus Heaney was right to suggest that poetry is born out of superfluity, but it is a superfluity of verbiage choices, not exactly an extra of unproductive oozing. This extra may still exist after the fact of composition, but then the writer or the editor will, we hope, trim it. Play-words used by Saroyan, such as lighght, or j;u;n;g;l;e, or picassc, or an “m” with three humps, no matter how rich  the interpretation, or how many awards they receive, are not poems. They are sources of inspiration, poetic matter, and possibly a part of some artistic whole. Saint Therese of Lisieux once claimed that everything is grace. Well, in a theological universe, maybe. But poetry, derived from craftsmanship, does not have universal pretentions.

 I am never comfortable playing gatekeeper. God knows, there are always exceptions to each zealous and seemingly dogmatic statement. Poets do push boundaries and play with their creations. Much of art is childlike, however, it usually portrays a seriousness of beauty and an objectivity of delight. Think of Pound’s In a Station of the Metro,

 The apparition of these faces in the crowd:

Petals on a wet black bough.

 Here meaning charges the language and the poet and his muse invent an unforgettable image. The muse or the miscellaneous other or the objective correlative share the authorship. The lines derive from a collaboration of sorts, not merely the confessional. It is more than just a child finger painting or a poet-baby spitting up sounds or words that are intrinsically important or beautiful. We could take any word in Pound’s poem and infuse it with imagination and possibility, but it would still not be a poem. Our mental inspirations gleaned from the word may tickle us or lead us down unexpected paths, but the word itself is not a poem. If one considers it a poem, than everything is a poem. Sounds nice! But instead of beauty and metric, one earns only chaos without real craftsmanship.

 (If you’re thinking about the rivalry between Mozart and Salieri in the movie Amadeus, don’t. It never happened that way. Mozart was not the crude child to the studied artist Salieri. If anything, a sophisticated but playful Mozart owed much to his crafty teacher and was supported by him.)

 Mr. Ratiner touches upon the problem and the perception of elitism. This is indeed a problem, which affects the “willing suspension of disbelief” and, ultimately, the size of the artistic audience, which the poet is preaching to or trying to touch in some way. Often, I’m sure, the would-be audience thinks they are being conned by art. They think everything is a Jackson Pollock redo. No, I am not on the same side of Ronald Reagan or Senator Jesse Helms but (in the context of federal funding)… they did tap into the absurd nature of artistic extremism. Some poetic pretentions derive from a profound self-centeredness, not unlike a young child. We admire, and should admire, the awe and fascination that a child’s eyes exude, not the babe’s innate selfishness which, by necessity, begets attention. Yes, to wonder. No, to elitism.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Review of Millrat by Michael Casey

Once upon a time multileveled manufacturing plants with attached smokestacks, called mills or factories, grew like mushrooms around waterfalls and river bends. They attracted the able-bodied, both men and women, who sought financial independence and dignity. What these seekers found instead in this soot-filled urban culture was a rite of passage for some, a technological trap for others, and a graveyard or graveyard road for the unlucky remainder.

 Humor often got one through the interminable repetitions and the real dangers of modern machinery and toxic chemicals. Michael Casey knows this and nails the details of mill culture in his classic collection of poetic narratives entitled Millrat, which is being republished this year as a 25th Anniversary Edition by Loom Press. For more of my review of Millrat go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2022/01/millrat-poems-by-michael-casey.html

Friday, January 14, 2022

Shield Wall on sale at Grolier


My newest book, Shield Wall, now on sale at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, 6 Plympton St., Cambridge MA 02138. (617-547-4648).

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Review of The Album by Peg Boyers

Never have I read ekphrastic poems so undetachable from the sources of their inspiration. It is as if Peg Boyers in her new collection, The Album, wrote within the individual art objects, delivering fresh, insightful, versicle pieces, birthed out of the same aesthetic DNA. Boyers and the editors of Dos Madres also deserve not a little praise for publishing this year’s most beautiful book of poems.

 La Tempesta (after La Tempesta by Giorgione, 1504) opens Boyers’ collection with its symbolic inferences. This painting was George Gordon Byron’s favorite because of its magical ambiguity. Some art historians believe that the painting was a warning to Venice to avoid war with the Pope’s threatening army. Boyers, however, has a more versatile approach. Her protagonists are art aficionados, who have just purchased a tie, adorned with the lightning bolt from the painting, from the museum shop. The lightning bolt is the demarcation between the lush foreground with a young woman nursing her infant and a young man eying her and an urban background. Previously these art connoisseurs have focused on this foreground ignoring the darker rest, including ruins and an impending storm. For more of my review of The Album go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2021/12/the-album-by-peg-boyers.html

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Review of City of Stories by Denise Provost

While reading Denise Provost’s new book, City of Stories, I marveled not only at her well-wrought pieces, but the witty, contagious joy pooling in each one, which charmingly overflows and inevitably drenches the reader in its artistic charm. Sure, there are moments of sorrow and maddening dysfunction in her observations. Hope, however, and the poet’s offbeat stoicism always seem to save the day.

 “What oft was thought, but ne’re so well expressed” said Alexander Pope, in describing wit. Provost’s formal poems fit that description entirely. She often takes pedestrian observations, gives them context, and decks them out with agreeable and sometimes laugh-out-loud meaning. For more of my review of City of Stories go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2021/12/city-of-stories-by-denise-provost.html


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Review of Therese by Sarah Law

 As most present-day people have slipped away from organized religion and renounced the burden of churchgoing, amid awful scandals and historic crimes, a few dedicated devotees of religiosity have surfaced, attempting to delve into the heart of the sacred matter and discern what all the fuss was about.

 Sarah Law, a British poet, provides, perhaps, one of the deepest dives into this sensitive subject that I have come across. In her new hagiographic collection of poems entitled Therese, Law engages the life of contemplative Marie Francoise-Thérèse Martin, or, as Roman Catholics know her, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. For more of my review of Therese go here:  http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2021/11/therese-poems-by-sarah-law.html

Monday, October 25, 2021

My Poem Niche Published by Amethyst Review

 My poem, Niche, was just published by Amethyst Review, a British poetry journal. Thank you to Sarah Law, the Editor in chief. The piece is included in my new book, Shield Wall. Here is the link: https://amethystmagazine.org/2021/10/26/niche-a-rondel-by-dennis-daly/

Monday, September 20, 2021

Review of & Company by Moira Linehan

Elegant beyond elegance. Moira Linehan stitches together a palimpsest biography of her mother’s mother, Marie Louise Raimbault Wacha, a nonpareil seamstress and dress designer. Based on very little hard information, Linehan conjures up backdrops, insights, and probable artistic techniques used by her grandmother. She does this by incorporating period art in an ekphrastic approach that uncovers the extraordinary will and likely contours of a magnificent lady. Wacha’s life spanned the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The urban textile centers of Paris and Boston nurtured her. For more of my review go here:    http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2021/09/company-by-moira-linehan-dos-madres.html

Friday, September 10, 2021

Shield Wall Now Available at The Grolier Book Shop


My new collection of poems, Shield Wall, now available at The Grolier Book Shop, 6 Plympton St., Cambridge MA 02138, (617)-547-4648 and Dos Madres Press,  https://www.dosmadres.com/shop/shield-wall-by-dennis-daly/

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Shield Wall Now Available at Dos Madres Press


My new collection entitled Shield Wall is now available at Dos Madres Press. Here is the link:https://www.dosmadres.com/shop/shield-wall-by-dennis-daly/  My own copies I'll have by the end of the week. Other stores and Amazon will follow.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Review of 14 International Younger Poets

 Poets practice their profession as solitaries, with time spans often lengthy, and the intensity profound. They hear voices and often respond with cursive arcs or, more commonly, by tapping computer keys.  The disabling isolation, demanded by this calling, fosters envy, grandiose pretentions, and bitterness. Not exactly a healthy atmosphere for bardic lads and lasses coming into their own. For more of my review of 14 International Younger Poets go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2021/09/14-international-younger-poets-edited.html

Sunday, August 15, 2021

My Poem The Sleeping Tune Published by Amethyst Review

 My poem The Sleeping Tune, was just published by Amethyst Review. Thank you to Sarah Law, the Editor in chief. The piece will be included in my new book, Shield Wall, due out in early September. Here is the link: https://amethystmagazine.org/2021/08/15/the-sleeping-tune-a-rondel-by-dennis-daly/

Monday, July 12, 2021

Front and Back Covers of my new book

 Dos Madres just sent me copies of the front and back covers of my new book of poems (due out in September 2021). Thank you to Robert and Elizabeth Murphy for their expert design and usual artistry. Also thank you to David Miller for his succinct and insightful blurb.


Friday, June 4, 2021

Review of Petition by Joyce Peseroff

Petitions are like prayers, only they are addressed with more certitude. Humanity seems no more capable of reforming itself in the name of itself or its favorite deity than a distracted Almighty, who has clearly moved on to newer and more interesting subjects. Nevertheless, the very act of petition engenders sympathetic audiences of listeners and possibilities.

Joyce Peseroff, in her new poetry collection entitled Petition, makes her idealistic position clear and leads her readers through the daunting and changeable present-day suburban wilderness into her extraordinary alternative world of imagination and hope. For more of my review of Petition go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2021/06/petition-by-joyce-peseroff.html

Monday, May 10, 2021

Posted in front of the Salem Armory

My poem, Lament of the High Sheriff, detailing the curse on past and future High Sheriffs of Essex County Massachusetts, posted in front of the Salem Armory by The Massachusetts Poetry Festival. The poem is reprinted with my permission and can be found in my collection entitled Night Walking With Nathaniel, Poems of Salem (Dos Madres Press).



Friday, February 26, 2021

Review of How To Wash A Heart by Bhanu Kapil

Hospitality confers a plethora of emotions upon both host and guest. Some of these sensations, like empathy and gratitude, seem obvious. Others, like intrusiveness and resentment, seem less so. Cultural hospitality evolved historically as a survival trait, inhabiting the very center of tribal society. In her new collection of poems, How to Wash a Heart, Bhanu Kapil examines this interesting phenomenon with intimacy and tough-mindedness.

Nothing, if not original, Kapil sets her collection up in five sections of eight untitled poems apiece. The compositions are twenty lines long in the first section and twenty-two lines in the remaining four. She telescopes in and out, engaging in stories, images, scenes, and speculations of an Indian immigrant. Most of the lines are short and they work well lending emphasis and exposing drama. For more of my review go here:  http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2021/02/how-to-wash-heart-by-bhanu-kapil.html