Marc Rahe on Daniel Khalastchi

Today we begin a week-long feature of Daniel Khalastchi’s poetry at THERMOS. Marc Rahe introduces Danny below, and you can scroll down beyond this post to read four poems from Manoleria, his first full-length collection of poems, and from our first issue. — AS



AN INTRODUCTION TO DANNY KHALASTCHI


If Daniel Khalastchi’s poetry has entered your horizon, and you’ve found your way to THERMOS, I’m confident that you are one who does not need me to point out that Danny’s poems share thematic concerns with those of such and such, or that he has made formal choices similar to those of that other poet (in their later work). You’ll notice. Or not, and it won’t even matter. Danny’s poems are beautiful, intelligent, and moving. Your attention will be drawn.


What I thought could be more interesting is to write a few sentences about Danny as a kind of introduction. For instance, did you know his high school team was the Screamin’ Ceasuras? Not a fact. And that during season 1 of Battlestar Galactica he played the part of Starbuck’s awkwardly tight tank top? That’s only true in as far as the imaginary is true.


Of course, true imaginings are the fabric of Danny’s work. For example, these lines from “National Growth:” from his book Manoleria – a book largely inspired by daily listening to NPR’s Marketplace – in which the speaker reports his human condition,


            “…A/ row of haired carrot// tops sink straight through/my nipples. Their roots// grab
            for vessels/ for spine and I bite// my lip while they steady/ their hold. Somewhere a//
            radio plays soft/ news of a shooting. A couple// comes near holding/ drinks with umbrellas.
            I// feel such weight lay/ heavy my stomach. See red// heads of lettuce where/ I was told
            I have ovaries.”


Did you know the juice from those carrots contains more than 30% of the inflation and parasites needed in a daily diet? Plus, it gives you improved night vision. You know that’s not right. But you can hear the truth.


Another truth is that, as with Michael J. Fox, the secret to Danny’s success is that he’s living 25 hours a day. In addition to being a prolific writer, he’s also the Associate Director of the Frank N. Magid Undergraduate Writing Center (the new cross-discipline undergraduate writing program at the University of Iowa), a professor, a managing editor and co-founder of Rescue Press, a publisher of both earthwords and Ink Lit Mag, an executive board member of the James Gang (a nonprofit community building organization), and an instructor at both the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Iowa Young Writers Studio. But there’s no reason to read about Danny; you can read Danny, here in THERMOS and elsewhere. I imagine it will be to your liking.

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