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In Julie Danho’s Those Who Keep Arriving, the personal is political and the political is terrifying. Danho faces this terror and transcends it to make stunning poems about creating a home and family. She often employs the ekphrasis mode, seeing well-known visual pieces anew, using them as vehicles for exploration. She also writes her own character studies in American Landscape and other forms. In “Abstraction,” a sonogram is imagined as art on a wall called “Moon, Clouds, / Volcano Taken From Above.” The glittering surfaces of her elegant poems are as fascinating as their substance.
A first full-length collection in name only—this is mature, polished work that consistently moves past the anticipated ending and discovers, in that excavated place or moment, where the significant truth so often lies. From the small pleasures of donut pajamas and pink bathrooms to the anxieties of “It’s Terrible What’s Happening There” and “When the First Father Dies,” Julie Danho shows range and depth. It’s been a pleasure to be among the first to read these moving poems.
Though both her language and imagery are powerful in her debut collection, Julie Danho’s primary gift is her mastery of mood and tone. Those Who Keep Arriving captures the anxiety, alienation, and fear that simmers beneath the surface of contemporary American life. Danho masterfully depicts the trepidation of navigating this world replete with threats—both real and imagined. But hope prevails for this speaker and for us. If her beloved is still alive when most humans die off, she affirms that she wants to be alive with her beloved, eating bugs underground, “both of us/ quiet as roses waiting for the bees to arrive.”