Intermittent Visitors: David J. Daniels

  David J. Daniels’ poetry has appeared in Anti-, Boston Review, Mead: The Magazine of Literature & Libations, Sixth Finch, and Thrush Poetry Journal, as well as in Upper Rubber Boot’s anthology Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days. He is the author of Breakfast in the Suburbs and his chapbook, Indecency, was a co-winner of the 2012 Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. He teaches in the University Writing Program at the University of Denver.


1. What is your writing process?

Every morning, I try to write—if not write, read—poetry. It’s a habit I’ve developed since childhood from years of waking up exceptionally early, before anyone else in the house. If I can write on my own, I’m pleased—but mostly I work by imitation. I enjoy a couplet by Thom Gunn and seek to emulate it. Once I’ve started, I work with the language itself, typically through rhyme, seeking out that next line, less concerned with ‘the story to be told,’ which I don’t much believe in (write prose, if you have a story to tell) and more concerned with technique and craft, the silliness of rhyme or the startling echo.


2. What’s some writing advice you’ve received, that works for you?

Find two or three people who love you, to read your work, who will beat up your bad writing and praise your good.


3. Can you say a little bit about the genesis of your most recent book?

My book Clean emerged after many years—a couple of the poems in it are over a decade old. I found myself writing many epistolary poems, directed to specific (many of them now dead) friends or family members. One of the ways I motivate myself—I think, in order to get out of my own head—is to write a poem to someone in particular. Perhaps it’s an exercise in empathy, an attempt to characterize especially the missing or dead in whole, actual, honest terms.


4. Have you had to sacrifice anything in the rest of your life to write?

Probably, but I’m the wrong person to ask, I imagine. Have I neglected people? Likely, but I’d have to ask them. Writing demands, I think, a certain level of selfishness and extended periods of quieting what’s around you.


This interview is part of Intermittent Visitors: a multi-author blog tour.

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