2022 IAN Book of the Year Finalist, Poetry
2022 American Book Fest “Best Book” Finalist, Autobiography/Memoirs

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Sharp writing and keen imagery underscore poetic themes of love and loss, memory and regret.
Kirkus Reviews

“Mink Eyes” introduces us to Dan Flanigan the novelist.  “Tenebrae” shows us another side of Dan – the poet. The lead poem in this collection, “Tenebrae: A Memoir of Love and Death,” is a lovely bracelet of verse and prose poems that link brilliantly together in a gripping narrative and wrenching emotional journey through the illness and death of his wife. Other poems in the book – including several snapshot portraits of Dan’s extended family under the title “The Irish in America” – reflect this same grappling with the fundamental issues of our lives – loss, change, growth, hope, despair and acceptance, reflecting throughout a compassionate embrace of the human condition. These are truly poems for the people – plain but exquisitely crafted, direct as a dagger, and expressed in a language that is both elegant and easy to understand at the same time. They reach from the heart to the heart.

From the Foreword by Matthew Lippman
Author of A Little Gut Magic, The New Year of Yellow, Monkey Bars, Salami Jew, and American Chew:

     “Dan Flanigan is a visionary poet. His series of poems, Tenebrae: A Memoir of Love and Death, based on an ancient service sometimes performed in the Roman Catholic Church, grapples with the death of his wife. In these poems he takes the reader on the journey that his wife endured, and he with her, in her wrenching passage from life to death. I initially read his manuscript sometime ago but still I am filled with its humanity, its depth of vision, and imagination. One of the things that resonates with me most is how willing he was to explore the hardest stuff in order to find his voice. He found it. These poems are some of the most moving poems I have ever read about death. What he has created is astonishing. There is a humanity at the core of these pieces that shakes the reader to the bone. They are moving. They are elegiac. They are celebratory. If sadness and solitude make for big art, these poems are big art. But they are more than that—they are the human heart in a singular and authentic voice. Flanigan’s poetry is everything that I think of when I think of what poetry should be—playful, intelligent, of the personal and the universal simultaneously. So, while the poems have a confessional air to them, they are completely of us, for us, the world at large.
     Other of the poems in this book focus on family, on history, on his Irish heritage. In particular, there is a piece entitled “San Josef Bay, Cape Scott, Vancouver Island,” which recounts a walk and conversation between a father and his young daughter. The writing in the prose poem is magical, haunting, and utterly sublime because of what Dan says and does not say all at once. He has that ability, that talent, to know what not to say, to impose silence into a piece, the unsaid, in order to say more, in order to garner the most powerful emotional effect possible.
     This is Dan Flanigan’s power—his poetry is an emotional poetry. It is not a sentimental poetry, though. It gets at the heart of the heart and tears things up to build them back up. It is a smart poetry. The ethos of his voiceis strong. When you read his work, you feel like you are in the hands of a master craftsperson, in the hands of a poet who has figured out the big and gorgeous balance between ‘here and there’ at the same time. Like the Tenebrae poems, his other pieces, though different in subject matter, come from the same well-spring and express, again, the depth of humanity that is so heartbreaking and exquisite in his work.
Dan Flanigan’s poems are for the world, for every man and woman who wants to know more about the beauty and the suffering that are in a state of constant collision.”

Excerpt from “Sonora”

“It was a desert,
Yet we marveled how green it was,
Barrel cacti spiked like maces,
Palo verde trees, gnarled and skeletal but rooted deep,
Yucca, creosote, mesquite, ocotillo,
Swaths of yellow poppies,
A Golgotha of saguaros
Lined like crucifixes on a Roman highway,
Sprouting blood-red flowers,
Jumping cholla with spikes that seize you,
Trap you faster and faster as you struggle to escape,
They will not free you unless you cut them away.
Gila woodpeckers and Gila monsters.
Rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas.
So many birds all around us,
Twittering and racketing in the underbrush.
Quail skittering in mincing steps.
Roadrunners like wicked witches arrogantly prancing.
Did we fall into a quarrel that day
As we so often carelessly did?
We were so young then
We thought we had love to squander,
And time too since we would surely never die.”


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