Ezra Pound valued “melopoeia” as an aspect of poetry that charges words with a musicality that extends language beyond normal meanings. Daniel Y. Harris’s extraordinarily capacious The Underworld of Lesser Degrees brought me the pleasures of a music that is so delightful in its soundings – “such gorgeous nonsense” — that even if the poems were written in a foreign language I would have fallen in love with a text of “haloed dementia” that “escapes from handcuffs” of conventional lyrics. Beyond the text’s sonic extravagance, Daniel Y. Harris is the “perfect mentor to lead us below up” in poetry that takes amazing risks in its willingness to showcase the writer’s unprecedented range of tones and subjects (Yahweh, Allah, fetishism, pianos, pastrami sandwiches, forks, baseball, simplicity, chemical equations, and shit), massive knowledge base of secular and sacred literatures (Kafka, Bloom, Nietzsche, Rimbaud, and Sartre) and scientific discourse. Daniel Y. Harris is among our most underacknowledged major poets.
—Daniel Morris, Professor of English, Purdue University and author of Lyric Encounter: Essays on American Poetry from Lazarus and Frost to Ortiz Cofer and Alexie
Daniel Y. Harris’ The Underworld of Lesser Degrees is a regal feast of incisive signification. This rich and extensive collection of masterfully crafted poems roams uninhibitedly from the noxious to the sublime, all the while pressing and muscling toward the ultimate frontiers of both vision and language. Harris might be described as one of our new breed of urban imagists, fearless in his deployment of nuance and astonishing in his opening of alternate universes of meaning and experience.
—Carl Raschke, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Denver and author of Fire and Roses: Postmodernity and the Thought of the Body
Daniel Y. Harris is a surrealist theologian, a Jewish mystic, a fantasist and above all else a poet of the unknown. The Underworld of Lesser Degrees is populated by an ingenious and undeniably ghastly array of imaginary demons, ghosts, angels, animals and other creatures who curse and sing to each other between these intertextual poems. In the same way their creator casts his literary spell around his readers, enticing them to share his occult dreams. These risky and at times risqué texts bear witness to the precocious talents of a magical and restless writer willing to guide us all into the terrible and enticing dark that surrounds us.
—Rupert M. Loydell, Senior Lecturer in English, Falmouth University and Editor of Stride in England, is the author of Ballads of the Alone and Encouraging Signs
The Underworld of Lesser Degrees may be the first healthy literary baby of the digital age, formed as it is by a laser-like bombardment of disparate intelligences from prehistory through Biblical times into, even, the theoretical future. The verbal hypertext of language, symbol, and alchemy—of beautifully assembled complex interchanges—pulsing here defies easy comprehension but exudes the light of brilliance for all who wish to see.
—Gordon Massman, author of Love, Death and 0.174
Daniel Y. Harris’s new volume of poetry brings together a range of texts – older and newer – evocative of the qualms and uncertainties of our new millennium. A subtle and highly affective read.
—Sander L. Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences; Professor of Psychiatry, Emory University
Is cyberspace the most recent iteration of the diaspora? Will the next Zohar be composed in computer code? Can notarikon generate lyric poems out of the discourses of pharmacology, neurology, biophysics…? Welcome to the Hotel Url, Daniel Y. Harris, sole owner and proprietor, where these questions—and others that the reader has yet to dream—will be answered. No need to be anxious: in less than a nanosecond, the hyperlinks elaborated in Harris’s poems will whisk you from catastrophe creation to apocalypse and beyond. Beam me up, Ezekiel!
—Norman Finkelstein, Professor of English, Xavier University and author of On Mount Vision: Forms of the Sacred in Contemporary American Poetry
Daniel Y. Harris combines impressive erudition with a profound awe for continuity—that the eternal energies underlying Life itself constantly (re)iterate and (re)incarnate in myriad waxing and waning forms. Ideas birth Art; Art births Ideas. In such fashion, to employ classic terms, the heart and mind forge a dynamic union resulting in both clarity of perception and depth of feeling. These are poems to be read and reread, concepts and descriptive phrases operating like portals into other worlds. In Hyperlinks of Anxiety, Harris functions as a twenty-first century, digital alchemist, adeptly yoking the abstract and concrete, offering us singular and transformative experiences, all the while reminding us that Poetry is trans-authorial, Mystery our only true teacher.
—John Amen, author of At the Threshold of Alchemy; editor of The Pedestal Magazine
Like Codrescu, Daniel Y. Harris is a US based Jewish poet with a midrashic sensibility who was displaced from his home country (in his case, France) and native language as he has taken up residence on the West Coast and, more recently, in Chicago. Not born digital in 1962 and still attached to the material culture of the book, Harris, like Codrescu, nonetheless approximates in Hyperlinks of Anxiety (Cervena Barva Press, 2013), the bewildering explosion of personhood in a web realm by giving voice to the displaced Other through a virtually untranslatable opaque verse style: “Diaspora the body in all places/at once,” he writes in “The Agon Poems” (29). His book specifically addresses from multiple perspectives that I associate with his Jewish background—prophetic, diasporic, ethical, midrashic, gnostic—the vexing problems and sublime potential of disseminating lyrics, the ancient form of transmission and preservation of the singular, private human voice across time and space to an individual reader, in an environment in which e-poetry and digitalized poetics pose a crisis (understood as both opportunity and threat) to a traditional page of poetry.
—Daniel Morris (Citation from Not Born Digital: Poetics, Print Literacy, New Media, P. 119, N. 5)
“Harris’ poetry transmutes ancient symbols and concepts into contemporary wisdom. His work stretches and surprises our imagination.”
—Daniel C. Matt, author of The Essential Kabbalah and God and the Big Bang, translator of The Zohar