Daniel A. Harris Loose Parlance: Poems

ISBN 13: 9781933974057

Loose Parlance: Poems

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Grief, disruption, anger: these themes emerge in tightly crafted poems that evoke empathic images through precise diction and roughened rhythms. Taut stanzas and calculated rambles offer the hard pleasures one wants from poems whose speaking 'voice' contemplates social violence, conflicts between cultures. Poems about death and love are simultaneously embroiled in struggles with race, colonialism, Jewish identity and patriarchy. Impersonations of Moses caught in a cleft, or of the nude in a Manet painting, give historical density to individual utterance. Whether about later-life sex and marriage, or family dramas recalled to be reworked, these poems have an edge, a tough energy that comes from the drive to find an intelligible self-knowing--even as they also seek, more elusively, justice and healing in times of war and torture.

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About the Author:

Loose Parlance is Daniel A. Harris' first collection of poems. He is the author of Yeats: Coole Park and Ballylee, Inspirations Unbidden: The 'Terrible Sonnets of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Tennyson's 'Tithonus': The Rhetoric of Personification, together with many essays on Victorian, modern, and Anglo-Jewish poetry. For many years, through JEWISH VOICES: 200 YEARS OF POETRY IN ENGLISH, he taught poetry about Jewish culture and the Holocaust. The recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Newberry Library, he ended his long teaching career at Rutgers University, after extended periods at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Colorado (Boulder).

Review:

Daniel Harris's poems sparkle with the energy that comes from the collision between seemingly disparate artistic traditions. He deftly turns classical and contemporary English poetic forms in a kaleidoscope of intersecting concerns: Jewish identity, Western aesthetic practice and sharp scrutinies of modern relationships. Engaging with this rich poetic tapestry--wrought from a musician's ear, a painter's eye, a scholar's mind--offers deep and salutary rewards. --Professor Cynthia Scheinberg, Dean of Graduate Literary Studies, Mills College, Berkeley, CA

The language of Loose Parlance is elegantly melodious. But do not be fooled by surface beautyL it hides dangerous depths, speaked with a sense of history and of the present. In Harris' backyard, we find the longhouses of the original Leni Lenape Indians. Through the Hebrew bible we touch, surprisingly, The Odyssey: his 'Penelopah' is also a Mother in Israel. His Zeus brings us to Abu Ghraib. Andwhen his speaker faces the cannibal sun-god of the Aztecs, he asks, 'god of my death, / where will you bite me first?'

With great variety and wide scope, this collection gives a unified vision of a thoughful human being in complex times, and the poet's supplication is answered even as he makes it: may the poem I write not be cheap. --Professor Enriqueta Carrington, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ --Professor Enriqueta Carrington, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

These poems are intimate, fierce, sonorous and cadenced. Harris has made dramatic images of tension, dissolution, the efforts of re-creation. With surprising success he has made poems of witness, both about the Holocaust and about the Iraq War and its horrid tortures. He's also written with wit and self-critical comedy about love and sex---imagining his lover as a bodhisattva, stilled in meditation during her afterglow, or as the performer of massages. Often the words are bundled together in phrases that ask for unpicking, like the braided hair of his protagonist in Corn Rows, a fine tough poem about the slave trade and its personal consequences. You will find much self-crafted honesty in these poems, as in those about Alzheimer's and deaths of the truly elderly. Elegy is never far away from these poems, but neither are self-scrutiny and a plea for generosity. --Dr. Jane Buttars, DMA, Princeton, NJ

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