MANY FULL HANDS APPLAUDING INELEGANTLY by Darren C. Demaree
Darren C. Demaree’s Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly is as masterful as it is subtle. In this latest collection, Demaree continues to expand and develop not only his power and voice, but the voice of a time and a generation. A transcendent unity runs through this tripartite collection of poems that can be taken individually, as particles or a moment on a continuous wave. Birth (A Violent Sound in Almost Every Place), Life (We are Arrows) and Death (All the Birds Are Leaving) are woven together on the circle that surrounds and unites all.
PRAISE FOR MANY FULL HANDS APPLAUDING INELEGANTLY
Demaree’s newest installment to his oeuvre continues to cement his place as a modern poetic stylist who dare not be ignored. No other poet so seamlessly weaves pathos and purposively abstract prescience into carefully weighted stanzas as this man. In a sea of endlessly beautiful poetry, each instance procures something worth quoting.
To Be Read, and Reread, and Reread
As with his other collections, each poem forms a singularity made great by its brethren placed before and after. It reads almost novel-like in its development of theme and expression and while each is excellent individually they are deeply moving when taken together. It deserves your sit-down time in an armchair, read all at once, and then multiple times after.
For example, this:
“We are precious now, because we are / nothing. What was, and still is true, / has been part of our sound for all time.”
And this, whose lineage resonates throughout the manuscript:
“Raise your voice one time
before you die, do it, men,
in praise of a stranger
attempting to do what
you did. You were tide.
You loved a vague moon.”
Demaree puts the reader in the driver’s seat of emotional intuitiveness. He grasps to understand the world in a linguisticism bent enough beyond literal to become poetic without inducing catatonia as some poets might. This, alongside his residual body of work, is another instance of Demaree raising his voice (yet somehow calmly, without abrasion) above the crowd to share something worthwhile. It is upon us, as readers, to cherish such lyricism when it comes along.
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- After the Pause
Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantlyis a tour de force. Written in three, devastating parts, these extraordinary poems astound me. Demaree is a poet’s poet, with a grasp of the human condition in all its glorious fragility. “I think it’s good for us,/to hear only a whisper of the divine/equations. We are better at grasping/than we will ever be at holding starlight.” he says in “All The Birds Are Leaving #54.”
These poems, are as necessary as the air we breathe, they fly - with sound, arrows and wings - into the heart of the reader.
- Alexis Rhone Fancher, author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen & other heart stab poems, and State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies. Poetry Editor of Cultural Weekly.
For readers of Unbroken, Darren C. Demaree needs no introduction; but if you haven’t read him, you can find several of his stunning prose poems in our past issues, the latest being his, Here We Are, Sore, in the October issue.
I recently had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Demaree’s latest book, Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly.
This mountainous collection of poetry was rewarding to scale. Demaree weaves personal and human experience together, exploring themes of danger and hope, adversity and relationships, loss and mental illness. We join the author on this journey of discovery, learning more about the unknown “you” that follows along with us–at times intimate, friends or family, at times the poet himself, and at other times the reader.
Refreshing bits of humor are sprinkled throughout, giving us a chance to come up for air between heavy revelations. Demaree smoothly transitions from honest reflection on mental illness with lines like, “I have no bounce on the pills. I have only fear off of them,” to poking subtle fun at his own persona with lines like, “there is only so much I can do about being ornery & thirty-one at the same time.”
I enjoyed this book and found myself reading straight through titles and sections, letting the poems flow one into the next and form a picture that was worth waiting for. This collection will leave you pondering your own life in the bigger scheme of things, perhaps to conclude as Demaree does, to “never rise above a mountain that could be magic, if only we allowed it to be.”
-Ani Keaten, Unbroken Journal
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'Many full hands applauding inelegantly', by Darren C. Demaree, is a book of poems written from the center, how light enters a room usually from an angle, these poems, instead begin from the middle of the room and slowly find the jagged angles where light collects, giving form to the dust, the unseen of our lives. As the opener "A VIOLENT SOUND IN ALMOST EVERY PLACE #1" puts it "I gave up smoking so that there would be one less way to find me, but I failed first to erase the constellation of good, trained ears." Darren subtly maps out the peripheral contours of human life, its ease and dis-ease, the collected bits and pieces of daily living, like a strong hand reaching deep into cold waters and pulling out the warm underbelly of a river, these works deliver themselves on a level that has much to offer, if you listen closely you can hear the chime of a resonant heart in motion, it is a life force on the move in each of these poems.
"We were not sentenced, we were gifted these trials by the perfect number on the perfect day. We are the most beautiful fraction & every effort to delay or count differently weighs the sky down, pushes it harder against our thickened chest." This is what I mean by working from the middle, the center of things, grafting meaning's deepest pull onto the skin, every poem here has something to teach, in the musical sense, how notes operate by leaning into each other, the painful but perfect fit of chord after chord, the ear learns it because the heart already knows it.
"We are sewn beauty", Darren writes, "that does not mean we cannot meet the oil and the orphan of our star's best intentions, that we exist, that our hearts are soft enough for real magic to become planted in each of our bones." It's almost as if we are listening to a phone conversation between Charles Simic and Jorie Graham, the surreal and the salvific all at once rushing through and filling the room with linguistic light.
One doesn't walk away from this book, one walks towards it. And having seen what lies inside, stitched across each page, pulsing with life and all of the jagged undersides of the unseen, the unspoken, one can't help but applaud, with the many full hands of the human heart.
- Anti-Heroin Chic
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There are many avenues a poet may take and I am pleased that Darren C. Demaree has skillfully led me through his good work in, Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly. The poetry in his collection is representative of clear thinking and astute observations of self and surroundings. There is no battling here; as a reader, it's a pleasure to surrender to Mr. Demaree's tides and eddy's of language. Bravo! I enjoyed this collection - and will continue to enjoy it again as a touchstone of good poetry.
-Kae Sable, Managing Editor, Dime Show Review
In the newest collection by Darren C. Demaree, Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly, the narrator moves through three poetic sequences wherein the poems focus on the many forms contrast in this world, a world where we leave the chorus for the song, where we split ourselves apart from the impossible places we sometimes find ourselves in. Expansive in their compact form, these poems whisper straight-forwardly of violence, love, and a deep desire for home.
-Erin Elizabeth Smith, author of The Naming of Strays
When Darren Demaree first sent me Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly, my wife and I sat in each other’s laps, alternating reading his beautiful poems to each other. Over the course of the evening, we read the entire book. I’ve always thought of poems as little mechanisms. Here, Demaree has created an impressive number of little love mechanisms. Love Machines. Love Engines even -- love engines in their thumping violence and inelegance, their startling power. Each perfect part, its perfect purpose. Here we have a book full of tiny perfect little love engines. Love cams creating, each love piston pumping, powering this expansive collection. I read in envy. I read in awe. I read in love.
Nik De Dominic, author of Your Daily Horoscope