The Language We Cry In: Poems by Delicia Daniels
Poetry Discovery Prize Winner: 2017 Writers’ League of Texas Book Award
Stephen F. Austin University Press
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The Language We Cry In radiates an epic evolution. Constructing a lineage of discord from the beginning of our existence, this collection begins with The Testament of Lake Michigan. Embodied in the voice of an omniscient narrator, sacred energy breathes life into musicians, activists, civic citizens, and poets through a series of commandments. The spirits of distinctive leaders are called upon to combat this misery. A vigilant movement across the south begins. Separated by four momentous sections, each poem connects a human universal language of indecision, audacity, and devotion, taking the reader on a lyrical quest. Section One highlights manifestations of men whose bare hands and actions affirm their worth. Section Two extracts sympathy from sweat and sorrow through letters and confessions. Section Three tracks various faces of redemption including the mental state of military soldiers and battles with death. The final section observes rituals and matters of the heart that bring us to our knees and turn our heads towards a higher power with one question: When of Revolution.
Praise for The Language We Cry In
There is word celebration to be found in The Language We Cry In.
The poetry of Delicia Daniels is witness to a new creation.
She has given us a book worthy of high praise and genuflection.
Here are poetic chronicles as beautiful as our many days of blackness.
- E. Ethelbert Miller
Recipient of the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award
for Outstanding Community Service in Literature.
The Language We Cry In is an ominous collection of tears and prayers in multiple conversations and many tongues blurring time and lives. Relentlessly soul stirring and compelling, in both framework and craft, the poems urge, beg, push, tug the reader into a gut-wrenching well of emotion and history, of lives lived. The substance of our history are the stories, blood and tears of real people. This fodder, in the deft and delicate hands of Delicia Daniels, stun and shimmer.
Quraysh Ali Lansana, editor of Revise The Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks
Through the spirits of a litany of African-Americans, both famous and relatively unknown to the general public, and allusions to a number of horrifying events, both historical and recent, which have ravaged African-Americans throughout the United States, Daniels relates the hardships and undaunted resilience of not only her own race but of oppressed peoples everywhere. Her disturbing and gut-wrenching subject matter belies the mellifluous, haunting beauty of her poetic diction.
Larry D. Thomas
Member, Texas Institute of Letters
2008 Texas Poet Laureate
The poems in Delicia Daniels’ The Language We Cry In are framed as an apocalyptic vision, a “Book of Revelation” that moves from our world’s beginnings to a particular day in Houston, Texas in 2012. Daniels uses both the biblical sequence of quests and seals as well as stage directions external to the poems to move the reader, century to century, toward an uncertain end. In fact, of the seven biblical seals, only four are introduced in the book, leaving the reader to anticipate the haunting omega of what’s to come—an unspoken prophecy. Beyond the book’s experimental structure, what I find most compelling are the particular human lives—whether mythic or ordinary—whose stories of grief, racial oppression, bigotry, violence are offered as polyphonic fragments of human suffering. Whether narrative, psalmic, or epistolary, these fragments are an urgent call to empathy, reconciliation—and a warning. May we listen well.
Houston Poet Laureate and author of Luminous Other
Epic in scope, immediate in tone, encompassing a broad historical range yet always attentive to specific human detail, The Language We Cry In serves to both teach our minds and move our hearts. “We are hooked / hanging onto her harmony,” Delicia Daniels writes of Billie Holiday’s singing. Daniels’ readers will feel much the same about this powerful collection."
Joel Brouwer, The University of Alabama
Author of Off Message
“Delicia Daniels’s debut poetry collection, The Language We Cry In, is a book I’ve waited on. Using a historical framework, the book becomes a timeless Black lyrical love song, spanning over a century. Daniels’s attention to the short line and ability to skillfully convey image, rather, nuanced Black images, is sharp and always robust. Lamentations for Billie Holiday and a poem for Linda Cooke-Womack, the daughter of Sam Cooke, only extend the tenderness and musicality of this collection and add to the whimsical nature of a landscape where language is malleable and crying conventional.”
Author of Ropes and Stripper in Wonderland