Sunday, October 9, 2011

Safety Net

I am not the kind of gal who flies by the seat of her pants.  When I introduce an author at a reading, I always have a safety net in the form of a sheet of notes about the author and their work.  That sheet of notes contains items that I have cogitated on usually for a couple of days, perhaps even weeks.  Often, the notes come from the marginalia that I have scribbled in the margins and in between the lines of text in my copy of their book (if you have ever borrowed a well-loved book from me, you have noticed this obsessive habit…Eric says that he likes to read my copies so that he can see what I have written).  The notes are usually a bit of a review of the book for which the author is about to give a reading.  I do not usually read directly from the sheet of notes, unless I am reading an example of the author’s work, a review of their work, or some statistical fact about the author.  But I do keep the sheet of notes on my body, or in my hand, should I need to remind myself of something I wanted to say. 

So, I have notes for most of the author introductions that I have made over the last five years.  I sometimes turn them into reviews of the author’s work and post them on Goodreads; sometimes not.  Here is the fleshed-out version of my introduction of Dan, a sort of review of his work:

I cannot help but compare Daniel Donaghy to the great singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen.  My reasoning behind this is because he writes poems of the working class; the people working to make a living, to get by, but hoping for more.

In Start with the Trouble, Donaghy envisions a better future for people about whom he writes:  the bikers, the prostitutes, the dock workers, the homeless, his own family…himself.

But there is no romanticizing.  Some folks don’t get that better future.    Donaghy knows that all too well.

From the poem Touch (pg. 38, Start with the Trouble):
“…in the days before we’d sit alone
aching to be touched,
Johnny Wurtzel looking for a hand

to pull him back from heroin,
Angel Beach reaching out
for the fathers of her five kids,

Danny Boyer wanting someone
to do something other than tease
his lisp and his weight, finding

only a .22 he pressed to his head
one night on Snake Road in the rain.

But some do find a better future, they make it for themselves, as we see in the personal journey the narrator takes us on.  We find that he is transformed from a patron saint of nothing, to a man who finds salvation in the telling of others stories.

So, if you are looking for something worthwhile to read, pick up one of Dan’s books of poetry.  Streetfighting is his first book; Start with the Trouble is his second and most recent book.  They are both solid works, and I would recommend reading them back-to-back. 

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