Monday, April 28, 2008

Review Online

"In 2004 Philip Dacey, English professor at Southwest Minnesota State University for 34 years, author of eight previous full-length collections of poetry and recipient of numerous fellowships, moved to Manhattan in a flight of retirement fancy..."

More in the latest issue of Whistling Shade:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


It comes to each of us, should we have had the double-edged good fortune of looking upon Grand Universals or Ideals, that age will ask us to prosecute them. Bliss. Infinity. The Northern Lights of our malignant speck will be summoned to defend themselves against the growing scrutiny of the present. For as we drift inexorably from the pinpoint of some original moment, the fabric of our culture fades and ravels out with an active imagination. Ideals compete more and more with the breeding multiplicities (entertaining us like toddlers), the latter boasting a stronger connection to reality. Bubble gum scandal. Entertainment that smacks more of violence than pleasure. Technological progress that advances our complacence not our insight. These are the facets that brag of reality? God competes with the money behind false idol worship as it approaches Nirvana.

It is an organic reconciliation, I suppose. A sort of passing of a Platonic torch. The speeding wine of youth consumed by its own consumption of everything now and faster. That which comes before just doesn't have the same bling. So has it always been. So it is now. At the same time I realize the vanity of this ramble and its necessity. The great ideals, like their human counterparts, somewhere in their vast innards, must find the patience for these flashes in the pantheon. Ready to smile should these newborn blips one day open their eyes.

Nor am I above it all, the way a diatribe of this tone would imply. On the contrary, it is only on particular sunny mornings that I am able to see the mirages I do. But as a blip myself I am moved to scream my thoughts into the void, in hopes that some small vibration might find the right fork and cause another. Nothing more than a pause for thought seeking out its kin.

from Dots and Lines
(a book that does not exist)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Exposed, again

New review of the Tequila Chronicles and interview with me over at RUMPOT MAGAZINE (


Friday, April 11, 2008


And when does it occur to you? Three-quarters into a weighty conversation with that old, but estranged friend? Between the covers, perhaps, of that ancient novel you finally decided to enter. Calling it a question of language and you begin to stalk it. Vocabulary - too easy. Syntax - too cold. Culture. Warmer. Jauss with his diachronic and synchronic cross-sections...ouch. Abort.

The term poetry. What it admits to carrying in its marrow. The very justification for its skeletal structure. Eloquence. Now we're getting somewhere. Is the very attempt an admission of something seen as lofty and out of touch? Choice of words and sentence structure. Subject matter. Tone and voice. Every creative writer feels the pull of the reigns while constructing pieces for the body. Will an arm too long or muscular draw attention away from the beauty of subtle movements? Will a countenance too piercing disrupt the function and motivation? Does even the use of a metaphor turn a face sour, too far from the suface, constituting a breach of contract with what is empirical by the simplest of equations?

But then that has always been the case, no? Context and timing left to carry a thing from its opaque realm and into a part of us waiting to be touched? And that part, growing smaller through age into an ever more informal future? Smaller, but maybe more intense. A diminishing in the face of the growing complexity of everyday life, does it need to be satiated by an inverse proportion? Poetry as amino acid for the aged. Literature as vitamin-infused sustenance for the emotional and pituitary self?

But do not think - or feel - for a second that I am overlooking the issue of what constitutes eloquence. It is quite topical, coming up recently in my context (and those much greater and more numerous). Discussions of new formalism, freedom of expression, quality, anachronism, the anxiety of influence and more. Eloquence. The successful expression of a thought beyond the level of everyday speech? A new twist on that speech? As our culture embraces, with increasing passion, a more populist paradigm (a term, of course, which sprials out to other discussions, and rightfully so) how strange it appears when a more concerted tongue is used to express our ideas in older sense of direct, but more symbolic, certainty.

from Dots and Lines
(a book that does not exist)