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Deep Well.
New Orleans: Lavender Ink, 2017.

Deep Well, Dan Bellm’s fourth collection of poems, is an extended homage and elegy for a mother lost to Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010. The sequence is a book of memory and consolation, combining formal precision with plain speech, and interwoven with Bellm’s translations of six related poems from Spanish and French.

Reviews

Dan Bellm's Deep Well is a breathtaking, constantly astonishing elegiac sequence of poems in honor of his mother. Reflecting upon both the power of her presence in his life and the deepening grief of watching her passage through Alzheimer's, Dan Bellm both celebrates the fierce integrity of this remarkable woman and quietly charts his own poetics of loss. These lyrics of memoriam and these deep songs (in Lorca's sense) of mourning seem almost to etch themselves onto the air. Keep this book at hand; hold its passages close. This is an essential collection of poetry.

--David St. John, author of The Last Troubadour: New and Selected Poems

Wrought in a series of delicately articulated three-line stanzas—as if each stanza is a meditation on the relationship between the mother, the son, and the spirit—Dan Bellm's poems have worked some sort of magic on my heart. Reading Deep Well, I am at once sad and elated, aware of righteous indignation and far-reaching compassion. The poems here are part of a conversation that knows no boundaries. Neither foreign languages nor national borders, not denials nor death, can hinder these urgent and universal utterances. I am grateful to Deep Well for its precise and profound translation of what it means to inherit this lot that our language calls love.

--Camille T. Dungy, author of Trophic Cascade

     

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Twilight.
Fairfax & Kensington, CA: Red Berry Editions, 2016.

This handmade, limited-edition winner of Red Berry Editions’ 2016 Chapbook Context contains two long poems from the forthcoming collection, Deep Well.

 

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Practice.
San Francisco: Sixteen Rivers Press, 2008.

Winner of a 2009 California Book Award and named one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of 2008 by the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Dan Bellm's third book of poems takes as its starting point the Jewish practice of studying weekly portions of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, in an annual cycle. Working in the midrashic tradition--imaginatively explaining or expanding a Biblical text, often well beyond its literal meaning--the poems offer meditations on faith, doubt, yearning, family ties, love and loss, and the age-old roots of modern-day war. In Practice, we see a poet of extraordinary range and formal versatility, whose sonnets, villanelles, prose poems, and lyric inventions engage both the imagination and the heart. These poems are at once accessible and complex, deeply personal and profoundly universal.

Reviews

Reading Dan Bellm's poems, I think: This is blessing. . . . I am in awe of how Bellm's poems perform a dance with and against Holy Scripture. Practice is like a long prayer of wonder, gratitude, pain and loss and tenderness.

--Alicia Ostriker

Something happened to Dan Bellm in this third book that I believe will propel him most deservingly as one of the foremost poets of his generation. Here, speaking the language of the prophets, revising it in a way that is both humble and heartbreakingly playful . . . Bellm achieves a quiet grandeur that casts a spell and does not let me be. I love Practice as a book-long sequence of parables, prayers, elegies, and incantations that are traditional and yet utterly contemporary. In assembling this formal collection, Bellm teaches us: We are living in Biblical times.

--Ilya Kaminsky

     

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Buried Treasure is also available for purchase from the author. $15.00, including shipping.

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Buried Treasure.
Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Cleveland: Cleveland State University, 1999.

Winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay DiCastagnola Award and the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize, 1998, selected by Mark Jarman.

Reviews

This stunning book is fiercely alive, and awake to the self as both singular and inextricably part of the whole -- to the body as one in a field of yearning and failing human forms. 'Delle Avenue' is -- and I don't say this lightly -- a great poem of city life, of the confluence of memory and history and voice which city streets are. Dan Bellm's genuine authority and his vulnerable, almost physical presence on the page lead us, somehow, to connection with what is larger, more ongoing, than any single person is; he sings the anxious and lovely story of his place and time.

--Mark Doty

Whether he is looking at a small town, a hip neighborhood or the inner city, Dan Bellm regards American life with honesty, pity, and acceptance. He invokes the spirits of the poet James Schuyler and the composer John Cage, and the blessing they provide him is that, like them, Bellm scorns nothing. He can make poetry out of the ordinary grief of his parents' lives or the unlikely details of a shabby city street. He finds a connection between artistic ambition and the evolutionary stubbornness of quaking aspens. He has not forgotten his childhood, even as he struggles with being a parent. These poems range widely, giving us both the big picture of our time and place and the personal situation carrying on modestly within it. This poet's gift -- and I think it is a substantial one -- is for heartbreaking accuracy.

--Mark Jarman

     

One Hand on the Wheel is available for purchase from the author. $15.00, including shipping.

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One Hand on the Wheel.
The California Poetry Series. Berkeley: Roundhouse Press, 1999.

Launched the California Poetry Series from Roundhouse Press.

In a series of linked poems, a gay son at his father’s deathbed uncovers his family’s past and his own passage from childhood to raising a son. The poems stretch across roadways from Illinois to California and from the 1840s to the present, navigating the silences and reticent disclosures of generations of boys and men.

Reviews

Singular, fresh...[Dan Bellm] is an American artist of enormous gifts and discipline.

--June Jordan

Dan Bellm's courageous and humane poems are a strong inauguration for the California Poetry Series. A very fine book.

--Adrienne Rich

     

Terrain is available for purchase from the author. $12.50, including shipping.

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Terrain.
With Molly Fisk and Forrest Hamer. New California Voices Series. Book 2. Orinda: Hip Pocket Press, 1998.

Reviews

This chorale book, with its three substantive and distinctive voices, is rich proof of the strength and variety of current poetry, and of poetry-born friendship as well. Drawn from widely differing lives which nonetheless come together in a web of shared concerns, these poems range from the elegiac to the unnerving to the celebratory. Page after page offers the thrilling lift of revelation-imaginative, sensuous and precise encounters with the real terrain of the human. This is a truly fine collection.

 -- Jane Hirshfield