“We are the coast of technology,” and Daniel Poppick’s debut tracks the signal coming in towards shore. Charged with an electric syntax, haunted by lyric history, and “gripped in gravity’s mood,” the poems in The Police ask: How do we navigate the miasma that we call a common language? And what is the clumsy, mythic force dictating our movement and relations? Who granted it this power? As Poppick endeavors to reconcile individual desire with the demands of a beloved collective, he finds a radical vulnerability lurking behind the curtain in the theater of friendship: the speech passing between us has a life of its own, the root of our tragicomedy and our only hope.
Daniel Poppick is “assisted by a radiance of bending.” Many of the most beautiful lines show grammar almost breaking up: “For you was sunburnt I are leaving we am buoyed by / Homages…” Bending, buoyancy—the poems have both delicacy and force. “We am” might be a solecism, but it’s also an urgent dream. Reading, we am radiant. “Between us flows a school.”
Ben Lerner, citation for the BOMB Biennial Poetry Prize
With mesmerizing dexterity, Daniel Poppick captures a consciousness hived by the augmented realities of contemporary life. As distance collapses into sharable moments, he questions how we can sustain intimacy when we cease distinguishing our somatic experiences from our avatars; how to disrupt when disruption itself is privatized; how to connect when connection itself is privatized? Each poem reads like exquisite comment streams of the mind. Poppick writes with beauty, wit, and compassion.
Cathy Park Hong
As you near the conclusion of Poppick’s gorgeous collection, having followed the drive of his propulsive grammar through remarkably moving poems that manage wild elaboration with the bite of aphorism, you come upon a speaker, himself on the way to a poetry reading, let’s call him Poppick, being pulled over by the police: “You shrugged & I, / A little alarmed / By exposure to a force / Coiled more tightly than my own / Followed him and & fixed / Myself in his front seat.” Poppick and the officer share a brief and official conversation about the speaker’s vocation, poetry, and “I discerned a muted affection, but will never be certain / As sympathy & contempt often run the same drills / On the field of the face.” This is a collection replete with the vulnerable pathos of possible connections like this one, tense with longing, and bright with tender, brilliant wit that’s turned by the torque of exquisite syntax. This is one of my very favorite new collections. It reminds me why I read poems in the first place. “Remember how you once / Kissed a map / And it was cool and bottomless…”? This book is that kiss.
“Now I am older, don’t think in words.” Poppick’s poems live up to the claim. Thinking in words might entail articulating orderly, permissible ideas. This is closer to the police’s job, yet who doesn’t have an inner cop? “Thus I am inwardly my police,” he writes. Reminding us of how “unvarious by comparison” ordinary language is, Poppick’s poetry amazes as the result of perceiving in words, full on, riotously.
Mónica de la Torre
Daniel Poppick’s work has been recognized with fellowships fromYaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he earned his MFA in 2011. A graduate of Kenyon College, he has taught writing and literature at SUNY Purchase College, Coe College,Victoria University (New Zealand), and the University of Iowa. He lives in Brooklyn, where he co-edits the Catenary Press.
“Poppick’s poems in The Police seem to be composed far less with any sense of overt narrative line or thread than as a series of accumulations, as though Poppick himself is also, through the writing, attempting to see where the poems might end up. Poppick’s lyrics are meandering, lush and inquisitive, writing to seek out both explanations in an increasing dark and the sources of such unusual light.”
My ruler hums on the table’s
rim, the wall
a keystroke beating
water through its precinct.
My bee unspools
her throat, for coughing
wings from plastic heralds
sleet. & December
sings its kitchen
in the lamp. I draw triangles
& touch my corners.
Something is against the law.