Jones / Daniel Jones

Check THIS out!

I have to admit that, for a while now, I’ve felt like the only person in the world who knew who Daniel Jones was.  A master of taut, constrained sentences, his words seem to rail against the confines he puts them in. It’s a rare quality, at once powerful, jarring and it’s a quality that some audiences can’t seem to get around. I think of all the people I’ve loaned The Brave Never Write Poetry to, only one or two have actually responded to it in a way that didn’t amount to, “Yes. That certainly WAS a book.”

Sorry, guys, I can’t find the poem to cite it.

I first heard about Daniel Jones–pen name Jones–in a poetry workshop filled with long, looping lines of verse and semi-avant-garde story-poems. Another classmate handed out a section of Jones’ work and I was struck dumb. Who was this crazy, depressed Hemingway figure from the Canadian ’80s Toronto punk scene I never knew enough about?

Eventually, I collected all of his books, the result of months of rummaging in used book stores, awkward phone conversations with book dealers–“No, he just went by, ‘Jones.’ You know, like Cher”–and one very creepy craigslist book seller I met at High Park Station on… Nuit Blanche or some other night of that sort. After that, once I’d read all the books a few times–it’s easy; they’re short–I started to see that I wasn’t, in fact, the only person in the world who knew this author. Imagine my surprise a few years ago at York, when one of my favorite current Canadian authors, Steven Heighton, wrote an essay entitled simply, “Jones,” detailing an encounter he had with the underground poet at some point before he died. Or my revelation that another of my favorite poets, Kevin Connolly, appears several times–though as a much younger version of himself–in Jones’ work.

And now this. There’s a part of me that’s hoping Jones may finally get the credit he’s been due. But I’ll admit there’s a small part of me that’s not sure how to take the news that Daniel Jones, and his work, will probably never again be something I’m alone in being aware of. No longer private. In Daniel Jones, I find an author I read similarly to Denis Johnson, a poet of hard times, with an unflinching eye towards the faults of himself and of others. He’s painfully honest, and that’s a hard feeling to keep in a crowded room. But I really appreciate the reporter at the Post for bringing Jones’ work back into the limelight.  I’ll email him in the next day or two. Odds are, he works just on the next floor above my office.

How cool is THAT?!

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One thought on “Jones / Daniel Jones

  1. I always find it difficult when something that only I seem to like becomes popular. What if a lot of people don’t like it? What if people just don’t get it? What if they fall in love with it? Should I be aggravated if they go on and on and on about how great it is, when I’ve known that all along? Et cetera. So I understand how you feel about his books being reprinted.

    But it’s also pretty cool that his work is getting more attention.

    Thanks for introducing me to him, by the way. =]

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