organized labor (Author House) is an ambitious first collection by Daniel P. Quinn, which covers four generations of American and family history, from the birth of his grandmother in NYC in 1887 to the fall of the Twin Towers in 2001.
Like much of the poetry in this 46-page volume, the book’s title has multiple allusions: from poems that deal with the organized labor movement in America (most notably, the 1913 strike of 20,000 Paterson silk workers at Botto House in Haledon, NJ), to the labor of organizing–and reconciling–past and present (captured eloquently in the title poem, organized labor), to even the labor of preparing one’s poetry for publication.
Part I contains 17 poems of personal reflection from 1977 to 1998, including poems about Edgar Allan Poe and his Bronx cottage (Poetry in Transformation); soul-draining office work (x-mas greetings on oppression!); opera (Omaggio); and art and politics in the Reagan years (re: public rhetoric), including these lines: Remember: magic tricks & cowboys,/the Wild West, riding off into the sunset/while joking about RR. You can hear the silence of Art./And look at the price tags for VanGogh,/Now, that he’s art & dead.
The composers, painters, authors, and historic figures who influenced the author’s life are paid homage in Part I. In the first 25 pages, August Strindberg and F. Scott Fitzgerald are quoted, and Poe, Mozart, VanGogh, T.S. Eliot, Berlioz, Paganini, Gurnemanz, Parsifal, Medea, Maria (Callas), and Verdi are cited in various poems. Fill in the b ank and Fragments capture a solitary voice against the ocean–often the feeling of those who make a career out of creating art, in contrast to those who make a career out of making money: Moving against/the waves.//As your legs are pulled and pushed,/You feel/the process/of the struggle/between/nature and man.
Part II, containing six poems, opens with a narrative poem on the 1913 Paterson workers’ strike. Later, in New York Trilogy, Daniel reflects on a photograph (reproduced in the book) of his great-grandfather as a manager of the Landmark Tavern, circa 1900. NY Trilogy III evoked the spirit of Stephane Mallarme in its use of text placement as a visual element, creating a moving poem on the loss of the Twin Towers while elevating the work to that of a visual art piece. The concluding poem, Epilogue, offers this great stanza: Co-mingling/the image/of Mel and Bell/ville, capturing, in few syllables, that tenuous balance of artistic interest and everyday living.
Book production is nicely done, from the cover design and drawing of hands by Thomas Micchelli to the feel of the paper within. All in all, organized labor is a labor of love to family, art, and history: an admirable first book. Sensations Magazine.
organized labor: collected poems (ISBN: 9781418403577)
Quinn, Daniel P.
ISBN 10: 1418403571
ISBN 13: 9781418403577
(Bloomington, IN, U.S.A.)
$15.75 List Price
800-839-8640 Book Orders.