michael dumanis, director of the csu poetry center introduces jeffrey mcdaniel and sean thomas dougherty
Okay – so even the academic readings don’t start on time in Cleveland. The McDaniel – Dougherty reading was advertised as starting @7:30 and true to Poetic Standard Time things got rolling with Dumanis introducing the readers at around ten ‘til eight. Dougherty kicked things off launching into a rustbelt cinched treatise. Paisley flowered shirt rolled to his elbows showing tattooed forearms a cap that looks like it was plucked from a black and white photo of Ellis Island immigration line dwellers he reminded me more of an eastern bloc uncle than a professor from Case.
His work carried the same sort of unapologetic sensibility as his wardrobe. He himself later said that the pieces he was reading (from a forthcoming manuscript) were an attempt to just say things. “Sometimes things just need to be, said.” Dougherty’s reading style falls somewhere between a beat jazz sing song reminiscent of kinescopes of Kerouac on the Steve Allen show and the hip hop influenced delivery of contemporary slammers.
“this is going to be one of those readings where i really f*** myself up”
Dougherty finished his twenty-five minute set with a couple list poems – one titles Ex and finally a love poem with the refrain “you are…” I enjoyed his set and hope to see more of this local writer.
McDaniel began his set with an excerpt from a longer piece of fiction, possibly a novel – something he has been working on for a couple years and not quite sure what to do with yet. He clutched the lectern and lowered his head looking as if he was reading in a wind tunnel and there was no warning when the fan might be turned on.
The five minute excerpt started out with a hilarious rendering of a family cat in heat swerved into a road trip to Niagra Falls with his father and brothers engaged in close quarter conflict and ending with a drug dependant mom vegetating back at home. McDaniel's work borders on the absurd at times and he uses humor like a knitting needle at a birthday party popping balloons. I’ve always liked his work and was somewhat disappointed when he confessed that he has probably only written four new poems in the last couple years. Let’s hope he rectifies this situation.