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Start with the Trouble: Poems
by Daniel Donaghy
University of Arkansas Press, 2009
eISBN: 978-1-61075-398-2 | Paper: 978-1-55728-907-0
Library of Congress Classification PS3604.O53S73 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

In his second collection of poems, Daniel Donaghy uses the power of poetry to connect the Kensington section of Philadelphia he knew as a boy––a place replete with crime, poverty, fractured families, and various other kinds of darkness––to upstate New York’s woods, rural Connecticut’s town greens and small churches, Vancouver’s back alleys, the killing ground of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre in Kiowa County, Colorado, and the shores of ancient Greece. In doing so, he examines the relationship between memory and identity and strives to give voice to those who might otherwise be forgotten by history. Start with the Trouble is the place of fist fights and first kisses, where we sit beside the dying and where we sing to those not yet born. It is where Michelangelo’s Pieta recreates itself on a Kensington sidewalk, where a mother watches helplessly as two older boys dangle her son from the roof of a building, where a prostitute writes poems between tricks before she disappears without a trace. It is where Bruce Springsteen goes back in time to woo Circe and the Sirens, where a father returns from the dead in the voice of Babe Ruth, where a mother’s spirit rises from the shadows of spruce trees, where Santa forsakes his reindeer and slides into town behind sled dogs. It is where simple gestures such as opening a car trunk or loading a wheelbarrow become portals into faraway, nightmarish worlds in which the young are forced to bear too much witness to the world. Start with the Trouble is a place where beauty exists amidst every kind of ugliness, and where that beauty is made even more precious because of the depths from which it rises.

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