Daniel Owen, Restaurant Samsara

2018 Furniture Press Poetry Prize, Selected by Sandra Simonds

Daniel Owen / RESTAURANT SAMSARA

6″ x 9″ / 80 pages / ISBN: 978-1-940092-21-8

$13.99

From the first bold declaration in Daniel Owen’s Restaurant Samsara, the looping language of eros and beauty jolts towards the reader and does not let up until the book is done. The poet’s lines move forward and fall back on themselves “back upon and/ back and/ again,” drawing us nearer, like a gyre, to a central, concentrated point of meaning and attention. The speaker roams the streets wearing a “tux of want”; joy and desire are met with the unfolding processes of linguistically fragmented images like shards of light refracted from broken glass, the selves within selves. At the same time, the speaker is also keenly attuned to the socio-political problems of the 21st century positioned beyond the mere desire of one body: “It won’t be the future/ and we’ll die there together.” Both spare and lush, these poems are a gripping testament to the surprise, confusion and pleasures of navigating the modern world via poetic structures and visions.

— Sandra Simonds

This book is pretty, in the best razor way—flange squeal in the dark—is Barbara Guest whispering from behind the settee? This book is prettiest, and smart, and wise to ordinary furniture and flat silent fields that might turn saucy and eternal right over here—we should go for a walk in Daniel’s glorious new multi-use restaurant, gently and moodily and carefully made by a human, out of items with which they’ve been intimate.

—Cathy Wagner

Aside from the way it bewitched me into reading it twice in a row, this book’s greatest power is that it flips the stubborn oddity of one person’s vision into everyday news which, because Daniel Owen is such a gifted poet, is fated (even as the poet cheats fate on most pages) to take the form of line breaks, wordplay, misdirection, sly elegy, horny coffee cups—all levitating in a fly-by-night show of magical skepticism. Almost kid-like in its tender toughness, yet unwilling to transact a single platitude, in the love affair between cause and effect Restaurant Samsara channels the “and.”

—Julien Poirier


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