Daniel, Mary–Alice: Mass for Shut-Ins
Yale University Press, paperback
Publication Date: March 21, 2023
Publisher Marketing: Mass for Shut-Ins is a dreamwork distilling the conflicting cultures, languages, and religions that have made Mary-Alice Daniel the writer she is "Against humans creating hell on earth, Daniel draws on animistic, Islamic, and syncretic Christian traditions from her native Nigeria to unleash potent incantations, rituals and spells, electric as St. Elmo's fire. Buckle up."--Rae Armantrout, judge Mary-Alice Daniel is a poet of place. Venturing through landscapes, dreamscapes, and hellscapes, the poems in Mass for Shut-Ins express controlled chaos. They perform cultural excavations and conduct unexpected experiments reflecting idiosyncratic identity. Daniel confronts a tricontinental heritage, engaging the mythos of her nomadic Fulani tribe alongside the Evangelical propaganda and American mass media she was raised on. Charged by a collision of influences, fevered images map an estranged native Nigeria onto an adopted, uneasy America. Animated by African and Western mythic traditions, her poetry conceives an original cosmology. As she investigates her curious placement in many worlds, straying into invisible fields of spiritual warfare, her poems naturally encounter supernatural systems. Wayward spirits haunt an utterly odd universe marked by superstition and the speculative--where it is always nighttime. The poet invites the unreal inside. Her voice is a vortex, a force pulling together something unconventional, otherworldly, intrusively ominous. This collection was selected by award-winning poet Rae Armantrout to become the 117th volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.