Cover image for Something shining : new poems
Something shining : new poems
Halpern, Daniel, 1945-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1999.
Physical Description:
83 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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PS3558.A397 S66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Widely praised for his earlier collections, Daniel Halpern has grown steadily in stature and attainment. Now, with Something Shining, his first collection of new poems in seven years, he gives us an ambitious, wide-ranging meditation on birth, love, and maturity, marking a turning point in both his life and his work. These beautifully crafted poems explore relations between lovers, between friends, between fathers and children. Written by the light of a young daughter's presence, in the distinctive lyrical language that Ted Hughes described as "so free and effortless and unerring," these poems ponder the fading of the body and the struggle that consciousness wages to keep the self afloat. And into this intimate world also enter a surprising array of characters: ancient Chinese poets and modern Cuban musicians, Charlie Parker, Chekhov, and the dervish mystic Rumi. But it is the poet's awareness of his own frailty ("the days run out--no longer oneself," he writes in "Fugue"), that, together with the extraordinary beauty he discovers in environments familiar and exotic, unifies this collection. The work of a poet at the top of his form, Something Shining confirms Halpern's place in our national literature.

Author Notes

Daniel Halpern was born on September 11, 1945 in Syracuse, New York. He received a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University in 1972. He has been an instructor in poetry at Princeton University, New School of Social Research, and Columbia University. He began working at Ecco Press in New York City in 1969, and later became editor-in-chief.

He has written several collections of poetry including Traveling on Credit, Tango and Something Shining: Poems. He has edited anthologies of both poetry and prose including Dante's Inferno: Translations by Twenty Contemporary Poets, The American Poetry Anthology, and The Art of the Tale: An International Anthology of Short Stories. He has won several awards and honors as an editor including the Jessie Rehder Poetry Award, YMHA Discovery Award, and the Great Lakes Colleges National Book Award.

(Bowker Author Biography) Daniel Halpern is editorial director of The Ecco Press/HarperCollins & the author of seven previous books of poetry. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife & daughter.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Elegies, ghazals, epigrams, travel poems, and domestic verses present Halpern (Foreign Neon) as an articulate, amiable, comfortable, middle-aged man contemplating, in this ninth collection, mortality, fatherhood, friendship, food and wine√Ąsometimes separately, sometimes all at once. While alert to nuances of feeling, Halpern's lines lack acoustic and formal interest: many seem inert both aurally and intellectively. In one quietly celebratory poem, "We place beach chairs just beyond the tidal line/ and here we sit. Shorts and T-shirts. Yet not wholly here." "Direction" explains portentously "my path is not destined/ although the one direction now is forward." "Midnight: Triadic Ghazal" makes this its central image: "In the dark we walk through rooms/ familiar as questions/ asked of us over and over." And in the entirely predictable "Dance," "The evening moves on the heat of the rhythm." Sometimes Halpern seems to be trying for camp, as in the bathetic Latinity of "Infestation" ("gentle sleep/ that's said to be indispensable/ for cerebral stability") or at the end of "Beauty & Restraint": "even the sun, hovering in this paradise,/ eventually goes down." But most of the poems come across as sincere and slack, with the genuinely campy "Carnival Food" and "Carnival Mood," and a diverting sestina-like poem in five-line stanzas, coming across as the only real inventions. Halpern seems content with careful records of his feelings and deeds. It's hard to imagine readers will feel the same. (Nov.) FYI: Halpern co-founded the Ecco Press, now a Harper imprint, and remains its editorial director. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

For 30 years, Halpern has demonstrated multiple literary talents as cofounder (with the late Paul Bowles) of the literary magazine Antaeus, publisher of Ecco Press (and then, postacquisition, editorial director of Ecco Press: HarperCollins), gourmet-traveler (Halpern's Guide to Essential Restaurants in Italy), and editor of quality anthologies. As with prior work (e.g., Tango, LJ 1/87), the poems in his ninth book of poetry reveal how much he cares about classic writers (Chekhov, Li Po, Machado), the New England coast ("the hillside terraced to the sea/ with flowers"), and things of light (in language and nature). Like art itself, the subjects of this poetry--conversation, music, vintage wine--are composed of "things fitting together, whether in the hand/ or mind." Tributes to his daughter ("our first light"), loving and more personal, give these stylish poems a delicate sense of passing time and by extension signify a larger world of family, friendship, and "the pure pleasure/ of sharing one thing with another." "High/ above the darkening," Halpern's eye is on "something shining."--Frank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Zeno's Lemur Isn't he the man with crimson socks and the slow loris climbing like the hour hand from his shoulder, over his ear and up to the pale dome of his head? The man's face shines with affection. He's an honest man and his pet, lackadaisical but not dispassionate, is devoted and clear about the nature of their relationship. There are times to eat and times to climb, the two things a loris is always in the act of. As the man turns, nearly in slow motion, the slow loris peers from behind his left ear and a smile begins to spread like a sunrise on his face. A word takes shape in his mouth as his hands reach into the air--reach out as the word moves forward, a word of arrival, recognition hovering before him. Excerpted from Something Shining: Poems by Daniel Halpern All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.