In Print : Daniel Waters's latest
"Chicken Fingers" by Daniel Waters, The Indian Hill Press, June, 2009, $15.
This slim soft-bound volume of verses, volume two following "Robert Frost's Answering Machine," continues to reassert poet Daniel Waters's ability to put poetry in everyone's back pocket. His sometimes touching, usually humorous quatrains speak of all that surrounds us - things in nature from weather to fireflies, pets, insects, small objects and occasions. From his vantage point, everyday minutia and mundane activities are recognized and elevated to higher status. Ordinary is no longer.
If God has a plan
To improve man,
We hope he'll design us
Without a sinus.
Mr. Waters makes it all seem easy, finding rhymes for words like demeanors, utensil, peccadillo, and ethereal with logical nonchalance. It is accessible poetry:
Cute as Bugs
Ladybugs that hug your arm
Possess a modicum of charm.
Mosquitoes, leeches, ticks -the rest-
Completely fail the cuteness test.
Reading his work is like looking at an exhibit of artwork you think you could, think you should, be able to do, but of course, cannot.
Mr. Waters, West Tisbury's first Poet Laureate, has been sharing his rhymes with the Island for almost 30 years. He grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, where his father was director of General Motors South America, and after graduating from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., moved to the Island in 1977 with Island native Hal Garneau.
After a series of jobs that included working as a typesetter for Vineyard Gazette, Mr. Waters, in 1982, under the initials, D.A.W., began writing and developing a following for his rhymes. Partnered with Mr. Garneau, now his spouse, they founded Indian Hill Press, using Joseph Low's Eden Hill Press old letterpress. Indian Hill became a successful enterprise, producing books, and Mr. Waters's block prints and cards that continue to reach a national market.
The award-winning poet has served as a West Tisbury Library trustee, an Island school mentor, and the chairman of the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council. He is a regular contributor of verse to both Yankee magazine and National Public Radio.