Jim Daniels for Birth Marks

from BOA Editions

Judge: Joe E. Weil

This was no easy decision. From what I saw of the books, there were many I could have chosen, but, in Birth Marks, Jim Daniels refuses to abdicate an interest in creating vibrant characters, in community, in coherent and lyrical narrative, directly challenging the over-thirty-year war against the poor and working class.  Beyond any political stance, Birth Marks resists the radical inconsequence and graze z nihilism pervading so much of our corporate culture.  This is not a poet waiting for a zombie apocalypse.  This is no clever sneer.  David Foster Wallace warned us that a civilization could not long survive on a steady diet of irony. Daniels does not live in that kingdom of snide. Birth Marks contains a world that is as broken as living bread. It is the world millions of Americans inhabit and their lives have been rendered in these poems with dignity, with humor, and, above all, with stunning accuracy.  


Joe Weil is an assistant professor of creative writing at Binghamton University. In 2013, he won the Partisan Press Working Poets' Award.  Weil's latest book of poetry is The Great Grandmother Light: New and Selected Poems (NYQ Books, 2013).  Poems of his have recently appeared in Boston Review and North American Review.  Weil lives in Binghamton with his wife, the poet, Emily Vogel, and his two small children, Clare and Gabriel. 

Kessler Award Finalists for 2014:

(in alphabetical order)

Jan Beatty for The Switching Yard  (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Kwame Dawes  for Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press)

Denise Duhamel for Blow Out (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Brynn Saito for The Palace of Contemplating Departure (Red Hen Press)

Afaa Michael Weaver for The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Last Updated: 9/4/14