Poetry

In the Months of My Son’s Recovery

Forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press (May 2019)
Southern Messenger Series, Dave Smith, editor

“I’ve long admired Kate Daniels’ poetry, but In the Months of My Son’s Recovery takes her art to a new level. The achievement is hard won: many of the poems were written in response to a family tragedy. These are among the most powerful, human, and compelling poems that I’ve read in the last twenty years.” Ernest Suarez, Five Points

Read poems from this book, plus an interview here:
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Three Syllables Describing Addiction

Durham: Bull City Press, 2018
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Three Syllables Describing Addiction is a devastating, unforgettable account of the way the terrors and heart break of addiction can ramify through a family, through a community, through a nation. These new poems only confirm what many of us have known for years now, that Kate Daniels is one of our nation’s greatest poets of the destructive vagaries and enduring values of human attachment.” Alan Shapiro

“This sequence of poems describes a mother’s descent into Hell to save her son. What she finds is that she cannot save him — she can save only herself — and only by letting him go. This is the nightmare of America’s heroin epidemic, told succinctly, beautifully, every line exploring the depths of our national nightmare. Our young are eating themselves alive, and Kate Daniels bears witness.”  Michael Simms

“To call Three Syllables Describing Addiction a survival manual would not do justice to its challenging, complex depths. Nonetheless, the book—a breviary of testimonies and prayers describing addiction’s ‘closed loops / Or broken circuits’ of enslavement, despair, tested hope, endurance— offers solace to every person affected by an addict or by any form of addiction. “The aftermath,” Daniels writes, “is what’s at stake./The human flotsam captured in addiction’s filthy wake.” The word syllable derives from the Greek syllable ‘that which is held together; several sounds or letters taken together,’ i.e. ‘a taking together.’ Out of the ‘’flotsam’ and the “broken scraps /…the shredded /Edges cutting her inside every-/Where” by addiction’s implacable reach, Daniels bravely gathers her salvific syllables, shaping them into a new language, annealed by incurable illness and suffering, and acknowledging that “the things you love are still/Beautiful in the new dark/They live in now.”  Lisa Russ Spaar

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A Walk in Victoria’s Secret

Louisiana State University Press (2011)
Southern Messenger Series, Dave Smith, editor
On Amazon

“Kate Daniels’s new poems deploy two faculties which are usually segregated: an unstoppable and exhaustive analytic intelligence and a poet’s deep allegiance to sensuousness and mystery…. Again and again, she aims herself with a terrible velocity into the dreadfuls of her life, and un-dreads them. Reading these poems, I have often felt the alarmed mixture of shock and relief that the first readers of Plath must have felt. Brace yourself. A Walk in Victoria’s Secret is no joke.”  Tony Hoagland

“Utterly original, Kate Daniels welds her considerable lyric and narrative gifts in these hybrid meditations. She offers up an American South saturated with startling intimacies, yoking familial and social history. The poems on women’s bodies and lives are fearless, virtuosic.” Robin Becker

Four Testimonies

Louisiana State University Press (1998)
Southern Messenger Series, Dave Smith, editor
On Amazon

“The poems in Four Testimonies, Kate Daniels’ extraordinary new collection, are set on the threshold of the tragic and the everyday. Whether her subject is man-made or natural catastrophe, the terrors of history or the struggles of private life, Daniels irradiates with hard-won, often unbearable, but always artful clarity the horrible contingencies of human life. This is a beautiful, heart-wrenching book whose beauty is part and parcel of its ferocious power.” Alan Shapiro

“Daniels’ third collection ambitiously links the joys of her own domesticity to the testimonies of others less fortunate: Each of the poetic sequences derives its controlling spirit from the first, a meditative biography of Simone Weil, whose political asceticism is posed against the “inhuman vision” of the aesthete and photographer Atget, who lived in prewar Paris at the same time as the saintly Weil. Though Daniels stacks the deck against Atget’s bourgeois formalism (with its “ghosts of godless gluttony”), she ends her longest section with a formally stunning gloss (“Dialogue/ Epilogue”) on the previous poetic dialectic. Daniels also gives voice to three survivors of the 1989 earthquake in California whose tragic near-death experiences bring them closer to God in differing ways.”  Kirkus Reviews (1998)

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The Niobe Poems

University of Pittsburgh Press (1988)
Finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize
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“The second book from the author of The White Wave, winner of the 1983 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Daniels taps the lasting power of the Niobe myth in poems about personal loss and political insanity.” LSU Press

“Kate Daniels, in her second collection, The Niobe Poems, finds directive in what Adrienne Rich asked for in her poem, “Diving into the Wreck” – “the thing itself and not the myth.” The myth Daniels scrutinizes is that of motherhood, as represented by Niobe, the mortal mother of seven daughters and seven sons. Discovering that Apollo and Artemis had slain all fourteen children, Niobe turns to stone with sorrow. Daniels presents various versions of the myth, then retells it in contemporary contexts and idiom.”  Kenyon Review

“[In Kate Daniels’ The Niobe Poems,] a family loses a child and the mother’s grief is expressed through the myth of Niobe, whose great pride in her children incurred the myth of Leto, who in turn sent Apollo and Diana (her own children) to murder Niobe’s offspring. The myth and the contemporary event interweave, growing to include the suffering of mothers the world over and to make Niobe the archetype of maternal grief.” Mark Jarman, Gettysburg Review

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The White Wave

University of Pittsburgh Press (1984)
Winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize
On Amazon

“Daniels gives dignity and authenticity to the cradle and the hearthstone as subject matter. She is at her best with details of the homely moments when disparate lives overlap or connect.” Maxine Kumin

“Kate Daniels’s dramatic imagination creates a world for us that is vividly, sometimes painfully real, with a bold clarity of detail about people and things and happenings. She investigates the ties of blood and marriage, striving always to get the specifications right, so that she can puzzle out the meanings. The White Wave introduces us to a brave and honest and compassionate poet.” Stanley Kunitz

“I love the clarity of language in Kate Daniels’s poetry. Only deep feeling and the courage and humanity to confront that feeling, could produce such clarity. This is a fine book.” Gerald Stern