Inside the Invisible
by Daniel Simpson
Print Length: 99 pages
Reviewed by Timothy Thomas
A pleasant collection of great depth and whimsy
Daniel Simpson has studied as an organist. He earned his Master of Music degree in organ performance. He worked as a computer program and English teacher. Has been recognized through many mediums for his poetry. And he is blind. This collection rewards curious readers with so much depth and perspective.
With four parts consisting of between thirteen and eighteen poems each, Inside the Invisible reflects on everything from the generally mundane to the perplexing, touching on a wide range of concepts that are both personal and relatable.
The poems found in Inside the Invisible are grounded in everyday life. While its author’s disability does not take center stage, it still exerts its influence on his perspectives of subjects as profound as the loss of a parent in childhood and forced euthanasia on a beloved animal, and it ventures to more playful places like the contradictions present in varying ideas of what it takes to live well. Simpson also grapples with concepts of the Judeo- Christian faith by re-imagining the first sin in the Garden of Eden in “Adam’s Deposition,” or discussing the intersection of practical life and faith as they relate to miracles in “Why Shouldn’t I?”
It is in Simpson’s tightrope balance between his personal life experiences and broader conversations of life that his brilliance can be seen most clearly. His talent for extrapolating macrocosmic meaning from microcosmic situations and vice-versa results in larger-than-life discourses that remain conversational and accessible, making even the shortest pieces feel complete, yet provocative.
For example, the poem “Capital Punishment” consists of two stanzas of six lines each, none containing more than 7 words, and speaks of a fleeting moment with such descriptive force that it has incredible staying power. A single line more would have been too much. In an art where knowing when to stop is as important as knowing when to start, Simpson stands his ground with some of your favorite poets.
Simpson’s work may not be palatable for every reader of course. Poetry is subjective, and how a piece resonates with a reader depends primarily on their background and experiences. That said, Inside the Invisible does an exemplary job of being wide-ranging enough to appeal to multiple groups. This is particularly true where the author’s disability is concerned, for where it does take the spotlight, it offers a refreshing commentary on life experiences that may alter how one views them.
Lovers of poetry will find Inside the Invisible a wonderfully stirring addition to the genre. Its relatability and the author’s seamless weaving of his personal life with larger conversations (particularly where religion, death, and heartbreak are concerned) produces a fine collection of poems with broad appeal.
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