A Daybreak Handbook, by Jerry Dennis
A Daybreak Handbook, his first poetry chapbook, is a collection of prose, poems and poetic fragments, which contemplates time and truth, aging, manhood, and the curiosities of someone very much alive and in love with the world. As in his nonfiction books, Dennis brings a sensitivity and skill toward the rendering of experiences and imagery focused on the natural world. And yet, this isn't nature poetry. Instead, it's what happens when a clear-eyed chronicler looks inside himself, reviews the arc of his life, and decides to tell some of the more personal stories. While he begins with an analysis of what is 'true', here is a book that asks, tests and wonders about things more than it provides certainties. Many of the pieces revisit childhood, while others reflect the experience of a grown man who's figured out some of the conundrums of youth, and can bring a sense of levity to the business of adulthood. In prose and poems that evoke the tenderness of fatherhood, or the way a landscape achieves its shape in geologic time, we're invited to come along with him, and the sense of welcome is such that reading these pieces recalls something of the experience of swapping stories with good friends, perhaps around a campfire. A Daybreak Handbook is that warm, and that engaging.