The wildly imaginative poems in Daniel Khalastchi’s Tradition bring to life a speaker struggling to find a balance between familial pressure and personal identity, religious faith and a recognition of the world’s calamities. An Iraqi Jewish American and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Khalastchi’s much-anticipated follow-up to his award-winning debut is a surreal cri de coeur—a darkly humorous wonderland too fantastical and fresh to be doubted.
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Read Little Villiage’s interview with Daniel Khalastchi about the book right here.
Praise for Tradition:
“Tradition doesn’t demand veneration; it demands we pull it up by the stem to examine its roots. Its roots are our own. Daniel Khalastchi’s Tradition is evidence of the violence inherent in such work, an investigation into self and ancestry that makes of every form of inheritance—religious, familial, personal, erotic—not an explanation, but a picture of disfigurement more accurate than any mirror can reveal. Khalastchi also knows tradition creates relation, not only between the present and the past, but between I and You. With utmost courage, with an eye unsparing, he records this tormented moment (not history yet) that fractures our most basic mode of meaning—that I see you, that you see me—and lets the poems themselves suffer the lack back into utmost necessity.”
“Symbols of cultural identity, household appliances, and sex meet here in a strange or strangely familiar bar—or desire, doubt, and abjection (those old favorites) get a workout in the dream-gym that is Daniel Khalastchi’s Tradition.”
“Daniel Khalastchi’s poetry radiates like a nuclear transmitter. The underemployed self is desperate, rabbis are mercenary, and the Jewish faith has been reduced to a rubble of gags. Ultimately, Khalastchi’s poems conjure our history of violence as he memorializes a persecuted father in an unforgettable, profound suite of poems. These are sick poems for a sick world.”
—Cathy Park Hong
“These poems tickle our sly, inner appreciation for the unanticipated chaos of modern life.”
—The Volta Blog
Praise for Daniel Khalastchi:
“In Manoleria, the body, broken apart ‘in elegant stress,’ recongregates. Formally, the poet is taking us through the emotional work of picking up pieces. Despite the splintering, despite the hemorrhage, somehow ‘all is accounted for.’ A cardinal debut.”
—D. A. Powell
“With composure so unflinching as to be unnerving, the speaker of this mysterious, deft collection explicates what would be, in other hands, unimaginable and unspeakable atrocity. … Khalastchi uses a steady, steady hand to reach into the quiver.”
“Part nightmare journal, part survivor’s narrative, this haunting volume recounts one soul’s journey through the selva oscura within. … [A] music emerges that bears ultimate promise, for ‘somewhere inside I hear calling a shepherd.’”
“The poems in this magnificent volume ask us to consider the nature of selfhood when the body becomes unrecognizable, a concern that is skillfully enacted in the style of the work as Khalastchi appropriates, revises, and dismantles received literary forms.”
—Kristina Marie Darling, Colorado Review
—Adam Fell, H_NGM_N