“What Stephen Daniels does here is to lead us with wit and wisecrack absurdities over to the other side of the looking-glass and then leave us there staring at our scary selves, unable to put back together the uneven pieces of our daily eruptions and catastrophes. This is humanity caught botching it through life, but Stephen’s choice is to float over the nausea and master the downwards flying that is our constant falling.” Cristina Navazo-Eguía Newton
“Stephen Daniels’ poems deal with the difficulty of growing in an uncomfortable world. These poems are structured to be as uncomfortable as the stories they reveal, they are awkward and honest, show the true damage of childhood shame rising into adulthood – they take unexpected turns: human trauma in a real twisted, surreal reality. A striking first pamphlet!” Hilda Sheehan
“Stephen Daniels takes the ordinary, the everyday and makes it strange and sinister – revealing how ordinary life is, in fact, rooted in strangeness. Daniels takes us on a journey through childhood and modern family life. But these are not happy or sentimental poems; they don’t shy away from the more difficult aspects of domestic life – often exploring ideas of miscommunication, regret and how families are casually cruel to one another. Daniels is a master recreating the implied sense of threat that often lurks behind the everyday. The language of the poems is deceptively light and playful, which make them a joy to read: “we stole a real imaginary lorry/that smelled of circus” (Grounded), but the real power of these poems is in the way he uses surreal and sometimes disjointed language in the spinning of his tales. The effect is not unlike finding yourself in a dream where everything is slightly off kilter. This wrong-footing made me want to revisit the poems again and again – and on each reading I discovered something new and exciting. Daniels is definitely a poet worth watching.” Julia Webb
Tell Mistakes I Love Them exposes social nerves and pokes at the wounds with poems that are very vulnerable and very poignant.
A sample poem from the collection may be enjoyed below.
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"Stephen's carefully conveyed sense of the surreal qualities of the everyday allows him to address the big themes from surprising angles, for instance in one poem where intimations of mortality lurk in the background as he describes getting a mole checked by his doctor. He's one of those poets who writes poems about things that other poets wouldn't write poems about, which is only ever a good thing."
David Clarke, A Thing for Poetry, full article and listings here.
‘was nine and had serrated breath’ (The first person I ever hated)
‘my family – twisted amphibians -snap at intimacy…’ (Surface Tensions)
‘The sofa apologised’ (Pyromaniac)...
...Daniels shares his hurt in a very immediate way, that can only provoke a visceral and lasting response. We have all been hurt like this."
Paul Goring, Sabotage Reviews, full review here.
"...It’s a wonderful way to conclude a very accomplished debut:
'for however long it lasted
I believe we were flying'
In a field of increasingly homogenised writing, Stephen Daniels’ book stands out, earmarking him as a distinct, honest and self-deprecating voice."
Ben Banyard, editor of Clear Poetry, from a detailed review here.
"Daniels weaves a surreal narrative from childhood through to different deaths, finalising the entire sequence with a wonderfully touching last line that somehow seems to encapsulate many of the themes raised throughout the book:
'for however long it lasted / I believe we were flying' (uplift)
...The truth is that the entire release is liberally scattered with lines that live beyond the page, bringing an extra force to Daniels' accounts of childhood incidents and adult realisations.
...Tell Mistakes I Love Them is unexpectedly touching, stylistically interesting, and a promising beginning for Stephen Daniels - and it's certainly a worthy addition to any poetry-reader's pamphlet pile."
Charlotte Barnes, Mad Hatter Reviews, from a detailed review here.
From Tell Mistakes I Love Them:
Yesterday, when we were nine,
we stole a real imaginary lorry
that smelled of circus.
It had an elephant engine
with a flame-juggler sound.
It had unicycle seats
and lion-tamer windows
which we stole together
but stopped before the trapeze started.
Then we saw the shadow runners.
A tightrope chase caught us
with one leg over the fence
and the other not.
An ankle-drag pull
and we’re chained to the big-top prison
waiting for acrobats to take us home,
made to place our heads
into the roaring mouth of our lion-angry mum.
Our punishment, a ringmaster ear-clip
and a bedroom full of sad clown faces.