Reviews

“Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly”

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“Like any spiritual test worth its salt, this book offers more questions than answers. There is a kind of emptiness at the periphery of each sequence that allows the reader’s mind to go off into countless moral and allegorical questions like these; the edges of the cave truly contain only what you take with you. For these reasons, we recommend this challenging and complex work without reservation. Celebrate it with great care.”

Michael Young of Rust + Moth

“We are something beautiful and awful. /We are the formula for almost everything /that has no answer” the authors tells us. It is this formula that pushes us to seek out answers to unanswerable questions, and to repeatedly discover just how futile those questions are. To reach out to one another. To want a better world than the one we inherited. Demaree’s collection of poetry is rich in its multi-dimensional approach to what seems ordinary, but is in fact infinitely complex.

Amy Strauss Friedman of Yellow Chair Review

Darren C. Demaree’s Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly is a play of monologues clad in poetry. The many full hands in the title is a synecdochical portrayal of the audience, who applauds after watching a play performance of poetry. But why are the applauding inelegantly? Is there something wrong? Well, I think the audience have become so bewitched by the linguistic lyricism that resonates in Demaree’s poetry that they are not conscious of how they clap. A trance-like clap. A clap in awe of a beautiful performance. This beautiful performance is none other but the poems in this collection. It is a play with “mastery/ of the human experience,” and the poet persona often sounds “like a knotted fist,” punching solid truths into the faces of the audience/readers.

Samuel Oluwatobi Olatunji of ELSiEiSY

This sequence of poems feels like a breathing manifesto for the craft of living, creating and dying inside the impulsive world.  Each poem reads like a fragment of an intimate conversation spanning over a lifetime.  Darren snaps open his knowledge using small arras of language that reveal the huge scope of his skill as well as his character.  

 Gretchen Heffernan, Editor of Backlash Press  

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.

Ani Keaton of Unbroken

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.

James Diaz of Anti-Heroin Chic

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.

Michael Prihoda of After the Pause

“The Nineteen Steps Between Us”

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The poet’s purpose revolves around many natural obsessions: philosophy, faith, loss, bodily exchanges, familial relationships, flaws, transformations, beauty, love, joy. Darren carries, makes use of his poetic cadence in relaxed manners; he treasures his gentle spirit which is of great import.

David Ishaya Osu for Gainsayer

In the end, The Nineteen Steps Between Us is Darren’s rhetoric towards the philosophy that even though we believe and behave differently, everything is between us—for instance, love is between us.

While ponderous, this collection is gorgeous and sometimes surprisingly. It twists and turns, meanders and gallops, ponderous and urgent. Demaree’s work here is truly engaging and worth digging ones teeth into.

C. Derick Varn of Former People

His poetic genius lies in his ability to not let the aesthetic beauty of his work come in the way of his verse’s emotional impact. He has an extremely distinctive voice, and isn’t afraid of exploring it without reticence or self-reservation.

Trivarna Hariharan of Corner Club Press

Darren Demaree is a poet who understands the natural attenuations of the body. His authorial sense causes an amplification of precise language that enables him to illuminate the beautiful couplet form. Something in the way Demaree orchestrates his words invites one to read the collection out loud: “I will know / the pace of my gait / & the context / for my speed, how lion / I can be without / showing my teeth.” Demaree’s voice is clear and I am taken by his ability to carry equipoise in all Nineteen Steps Between Us—avowals that speak directly from an awareness of the self and the other: “Strong being / you are / forward, /even in slump- /ing, you / have angles / of an animal that flies / when declared /a bird.” This is the dialect of attention. Darren displays on paper what the artist Paul Klee meant when he said, “One eye sees, the other feels.” Demaree’s ability to call, awaken, and express an honesty that is slowly dying in our culture is crucial.

Sam Roxas-Chua of Red Truck Review

Every writer knows supporting small presses and upcoming writers is important, but sometimes we all need a little nudge towards some worthy talent.

Gretchen Gales of Quail Bell Magazine

The praise of the stranger, the unknown, is left perfect in its untouched contemplation. This is what makes it pure. And indeed, the speaker has given us, as readers, an opportunity to experience this brief encounter “because [he] can see / that even the shards // of a person in front of [us] / can be a pearl // in [our] own desert.” And though the encounter with the pearl of the stranger is brief, perfect, and untouched, luckily for the reader, it is preserved here in this gorgeous, well crafted, and thoughtful work.”Not for Art nor Prayer”

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick of The Pittsburgh Poetry Review

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Each poem of Demaree’s fourth book can most definitely stand on its own without the others; the texts are beautifully lyrical and a narrative of their own, yet they collectively guide the reader through a story of everyday people in everyday situations.

Sophie Chouinard of Cahoodaloodaling

To build a good soup, every ingredient must matter, and each must be added at the right time. This book is a tasty bowl of soup. Each line, each poem, attended to carefully and added at the right time, allow the reader to drink in the depths of the poet’s journey – a delightful blending of observation and imagination.

John McCormick of Cultural Weekly

What appeals to me about Not for Art nor Prayer is not only Darren Demaree’s poetic craftsmanship in areas of syntax, form, layout and style, but the feeling he has for language with its endless possibilities for richness and subtlety. On the one hand are poems where words are precise and everyday with a contemporary touch such as ‘your short, bent/body, always, in labor/com-/pressed, never beat-/en’ (Adoration #28). On the other hand – and this is what, in my opinion, marks Darren Demaree out as a top quality poet, we have language that is heightened and transformative.

Mandy Pannett of Sentinel Quarterly

It is a rebellious act to be as candid as Demaree is in Not For Art Nor Prayer – and that is what grabs ahold of you and pulls you in.

Ev Petgrave of Linden Avenue Lit

I’ll give this collection five stars. Though I usually gravitate toward short poems, Mr. Demaree has a way of writing a poem that makes the reader need to read it again and again. And even in his longer poems, he still manages to somehow be a man of few words. I’ll definitely be reading this collection again.

Mariah E. Wilson of Corner Club Press

The best word to describe the poems within the pages of his anthology is real.  They’re so very real.  Real relationships, real conversations, real observations without being overly floral or dramatic.  It’s easy to forget that these tiny pieces of our everyday can be beautiful and meaningful.  I think in this work the author wants us all to stop and take a closer at our surroundings and the people in our world and appreciate them a little more.

Jennifer Criss of Indiana Voice

As usual, after reading Darren’s poetry, I’m at a loss for words that would justify the beauty of the work. What do you say about words that leave you in a different place then you were in before you read them, that open you up inside. Language and form that leave you with a sigh and a smile, that make you feel connected, and make you wish you could write that damn good.

R.L. Black of Unbroken

“The Pony Governor”

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All in all an unusual book of poems that strikes an all too familiar call to arms that poets must always continue to signal if we are to survive with our hearts intact.

Darryl Price of The Olentangy Review

Demaree’s use of language and line is evocative and rich, and each of these poems gave me that feeling I like to experience when I read poetry, a feeling of having been touched by some invisible force that moves me and changes me on some level.

R.L. Black of Unbroken

“Temporary Champions”

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In Temporary Champions Darren C. Demaree gives a voice to fighters, translating the blows of the boxing ring into powerful lines of poetry.  Demaree not only describes the act of boxing – its intricacies and inherent spectacle – but also fleshes out the inner conflicts taking place in the hearts and minds of the fighters and their audience.  Temporary Champions redefines the words “fight”, “fighter”, and “audience” so that they not only apply to the context of boxing, but also to the society that consumes the spectacle of the violent sport.

Elizabeth Nichols of Pirene’s Fountain

The 72 poems on 73 pages is a poetic boxing epic. On HBO and ESPN we see many like Kim from developing countries in rings. Now, like in 1982, the crowd cheers when a boxer punches his opponent’s face into a berry. We hope that today the referee, ringside doctor, or the loser’s manager will stop the fight. This crafted poetry collection shows us why they should.

Salvatore Marici of Toasted Cheese

To extract consolation from darkness is a formidable task, even more so when the only consolation is that we finally face our fate accompli. When a poem tells us “how a little light / can take / the narrows / & explode / to become / the whole story,” it means we’re still running to turn on that light, no matter the possible consequences. That’s what I find so fascinating about Temporary Champions: the beauty is rightfully reserved for the fighters, but the elegy is for us.
Demaree is not just a simple bystander in Kim and Mancini’s fight, retelling its glory and its tragedy, but slowly writes himself into the story, willingly inviting his reader to share his rubber-neck horror. Reading Temporary Champions, I felt myself similarly unable to look away, and found it a quick, enthralling read.

Chris Mink of Coldfront

Demaree is not just a simple bystander in Kim and Mancini’s fight, retelling its glory and its tragedy, but slowly writes himself into the story, willingly inviting his reader to share his rubber-neck horror. Reading Temporary Champions, I felt myself similarly unable to look away, and found it a quick, enthralling read.

Raquel Thorne of Cahoodaloodaling

There is beauty in the vulgar that defies morality—- such is the message Darren C. Demaree finds in one of the most infamous boxing matches of all time in his collection Temporary Champions.

Bryce Emley of The Raleigh Review

“As We Refer To Our Bodies”

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In the end I walked away from As We Refer to Our Bodies knowing something important has happened. Nothing is circumstantial. There is no fleeting. Time had depth. Words made it so. This isn’t some weighty realization, but the exhilaration of concert-goers or crows in storms. I am looking down from a flooded moor. From a higher place.

Gram Joel Davies of The Centrifugal Eye

As We Refer to Our Bodies is a stirring collection of poems that travels along the American landscape and taps the many veins of the human experience with a heroic passion and an honesty that is brutally eloquent and soulful.

Shelley Carpenter of Toasted Cheese

  Fitting for a collection that is hyperaware of the natural world and is rife with images of fields, mountains, barnyard animals, woods, birds, and bees, the poems in Darren C. Demaree’s As We Refer to Our Bodies seem to grow and move in unison as an organic body. When taking each rounded stone of a poem and cobbling them together, the work takes on the feel of something alive. The sequences have a heartbeat that quickens and calms, a breath that is at times shallow, at other times deep and even. Whether meandering slow and pastoral, or pacing darkly gothic, Ohio and Emily permeate each poem, omnipresent with “her forgiving, confused skies” (65).

Domenica Martinello of Soliloquies

As you read through the poems of Darren C. Demaree, his prescient voice seems to grow in volume, each story clambering for more attention than the last.  Yet, it isn’t that he is screaming from atop the mountain, but that everybody around has infinitely hushed to hear this whispering storyteller who speaks of little moments, glorious moments, moments “where the smooth sheet / of leaves & salt / will sugar us / into the un-lonely air”…as if each of us, is his guiding star, his sky, his Emily.

The Editors of Garbanzo Literary Journal

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