David Daniel’s most singular creation is WAMFEST, the Words and Music Festival, which annually brings together writers and musicians to play, collaborate and have discussions that explore the commonality between songwriting and poetry writing, and in doing so, bridge that gap in our culture. After all, everyone listens to music. No one says, “Music is just not for me.” But we all have heard people say “I’m not much of a reader” or “Poetry is just not my thing.” Often someone has had a bad experience with poetry—they were forced to read poetry that didn’t connect with them, and once that ordeal was over, they swore off the stuff. Daniel is out to change the way people approach poetry–to encourage people to find poetry that they love, and to feel free to not read what doesn’t speak to you, just as you would in exploring music.
David Daniel’s own writing also challenges boundaries. Reading his poems, you sense that he is demanding of his writing, that he refuses to be predictable. Some poems are tight and dense with rich, inventive language; others are quick, ironic, and biting; others are prose poems that tell oddball quirky stories and read almost like flash fiction. Images of rural life and nature often ground the poems: an old horse, a flock of geese. We feel instantly like we “know” something about the image or the poem. But we are richly rewarded when these poems negate our assumptions, mash up the familiar with the ethereal, and allow the images to speak in new ways to us. Elegy in Two Storms gives us these gorgeous lines:
A goldfinch flutters in her womb,
It stands on a dandelion stem, bending it over
To eat the white tufts,
Its delicate, masked head tilting back.
Thunder in August, mallow,
A pileated drumming a locust’s high trunk:
Sweet mouth of earth, she says,
We eat the simplest food.
We are looking forward to having David Daniel at the Festival and to hearing some of the new poems he’s been working on. A 2010 interview and new poems can be found here.