Jim Daniels may not write poetry as eloquently as one would expect, but his style matches the subject matter he writes about perfectly. Indeed, it is this unrefined colloquial style, which allows Mr. Daniels to capture the essence of working class Detroit and relay it to the reader. His words may be somewhat coarse and he does not hesitate to use profanity, but one is still able to find beauty in his writing. The same can be said about the working class society, in which Jim Daniels was born and raised.
At first glance, the Blue-Collar landscape of Detroit Michigan, with its dilapidated factories and toxin belching smokestacks, may seem coarse and profane. Yet, when one looks closer it is not hard to find beauty in this god-forsaken place. Amongst the UAW workers, Millwrights, ironworkers, and construction workers of Detroit lurk philosophers, artists, historians, economists, and, as proven by Mr. Daniels, poets.
In “Ted’s Bar and Grill” Mr. Daniels writes, “…we shuffle our greasy boots up to the bar where Jeannie serves up drinks with her long blond hair and nice ass.” (15). The language he chose to use conveys a lot to the reader. By choosing the verb, “shuffle” and describing their boots as “greasy” Mr. Daniels paints a picture of a seedy “shift” bar where workers go after work, before work, or during work to get drunk. This is not a classy establishment. Indeed, patrons are not striding up to the bar in wingtips to procure libations here. In addition, by describing Jeannie as having “long blond hair and a nice ass”, Mr. Daniels gives the reader another insight into what kind of bar this is and what type of patrons frequent it. One can assume that few, if any, of the regulars at “Ted’s Bar an...
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...rnacular is an essential part of his writing because it gives his poetry authenticity. If one did not know better, one could easily imagine Mr. Daniels sitting at a “shift” bar after work guzzling Budweisers and writing poetry on cocktail napkins. He does a tremendous job of illustrating the good and bad aspects of Blue-Collar life in Detroit. This is very important because many people assume that working-class life is horrific, but in truth it has it’s good points and bad points. As a native Detroiter, who has worked on a myriad of construction sites for more than a decade, I can definitely relate to Jim Daniels poetry. This is because I have fallen in love with a dozen “Jeannie’s” in a dozen “Ted’s Bar and Grill’s” and I can definitely “do real dancing.”
Daniels, Jim. Places Everyone. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.
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