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Wedding Pulls

J.K. Daniels

Hub City Press
$14.95 paperback
6 x 8.5
72 pages
September 2016

The title of J.K. Daniels’s first book, Wedding Pulls, comes from a Victorian custom that persists in contemporary New Orleans: charms baked in or iced to a wedding cake are pulled out by the unmarried attendants. The charms, supposedly, predict who will marry next and who won’t, who will be richer and who poorer. In sensual, sonically-charged language, the poems in Wedding Pulls interrogate what it means to be wedded, lawfully or not. In personas from Eurydice to Eve to Alice B. Toklas, the poems complicate the traditional notions, the “meager plot,” of marriage and family while exploring the enduring pull of intimacy. Intricately-wrought, the poems blend experimental and traditional aesthetics to create mythic landscapes with speakers who ponder what it means to have (or not) and to hold (or not) until death do us part. Inspired by Shakespeare and Stein, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Harryette Mullen, these witty poems riff on art and myth, and the fate that is family.


Some manuscripts smell of smoke and some of soap, and some suggest a stricter ardor: being choosey with words. It is the central charge, isn’t it? Being particular about how the words rub or thwack against one another: sepulcher against carousel against a saddle of crawfish. How a sentence is trimmed: "Aluminum can blasted from the fence." How small surprises, I as innocent Eve, reveal themselves "when [she] first touched a snake, / to find it dry." Or a fragment of speech is inserted so accurately, there is no real need for the rest of the story: "come along now / she needs her rest." Prior to reading this book, I did not know what wedding pulls were, and once I learned I would be just as happy if they did not exist, but these poems, they were meant to be here.
—C.D. Wright, author of The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures
Sprung, bold, sure and sultry, J. K. Daniels hits every key on the theatre organ and lifts the curtain on a striking cast of voices: the hag, the wench, the mother, the Magdalene, Doris Day and Doubting Thomas, Eve and Orpheus and Eurydice, and Alice Toklas on Gertrude's lap. 'I'll wear the moss gown,' she writes, 'be your memento mori.' This is quick, honest eloquence in prismatic shivers and occasional shimmies, absolutely spectacular in every way.
—D.A. Powell, author of Useless Landscape, Or A Guide for Boys
You are walking the streets of New Orleans, lured by the sights, seduced by traditions you only halfway know. There is never a question as to whether or not you will follow: this is all you want to do. If there is a simultaneity to experience that could ever be
pronounced, these lyrics sing it. Alliterative, alive, rife with image, and always inventive, the poems in Wedding Pulls won’t let rest the ways we live and love in liminal space. Jen Daniel’s debut is a veritable force.
—Sally Keith, author of River House