"Wedding Pulls" by J.K. Daniels

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“Thruster holding me tight and that I hold tight! We hurt each other as the bridgegroom and the bride hurt each other” Walt Whitman "Song of Myself" (1855)

Setting the tone and theme of “Wedding Pulls” by J.K. Daniels come the poem that a reader finds on the first page.   The poem “Song of Myself” comes from a work by Walt Whitman that is a combination of biography, sermon, and poetic meditation.  In the body of poetry of Walt Whitman that “Wedding Pulls” references, the specific individual melts away into the abstract “Myself.”  The poem explores the possibilities for communion between individuals. Starting from the premise that “what I assume you shall assume” Whitman tries to prove that he both encompasses and is indistinguishable from the universe.

“Wedding Pulls” by J.K. Daniels explores the same theme as “Song of Myself” in terms of a marriage. The marriage that J.K. Daniels writes about is of two individuals who are lesbians. Everything she writes of in terms of a Wedding ceremony, and the relationship between two individuals, regardless of sexual preference are universal. The progression of love, feelings of loss of the individual self before and after the wedding, the ceremony, and the future as represented by the tradition and title of the collection of poetry “Wedding Pulls”.

The book is organized into chapters that include “Thimble”, “Ring”, and “Anchor” in that order. The reader gets the sense that there is a general progression of feeling in the relationship of a marriage. The Southern tradition of "Wedding Pulls" involves twelve different charms. The charms represent good fortune and hope for the future. The collection of poetry focuses on three. It begins with a “Thimble” representative of an Old maid (this meaning is a southern tradition), then “Ring” representative of an upcoming marriage. Finally, it ends with the chapter “Anchor” representative of an upcoming adventure. Each chapter representing the progression of a marriage in the symbolism of the wedding tradition of wedding pulls. Each title biblical references representing the religious significance and sanctity of a wedding and a marriage itself. J.K. Daniels intertwines both the solemnity of the sacrament and joyfulness of hope to give the reader a sense of the importance of the journey they are about to take as they experience or reach each poem.

“misconstrued, I’m misheard, I misstep, mistake what is not mine or am mislead, and I am missing a miss” from the poem "As Madame Maintenance"

The poem that spoke to me and that I believe is representative of the collection of poetry is “As Madame Maintenant”  The words “I want to die” are italicized. Is it because the speaker is so sad that she wants to cease to exist? Or is it that she wants to kill herself or her her own individuality? Is she at that point that she decides she wants to kill the “I” as in herself, and she is ready to become a “we” or one of another half? 

Yet, fear pervades her feelings and thoughts as she lets go and puts on her wedding dress represented by the “moss gown” and “silk muzzle”. The writer has a fear of her speech, no longer talking on behalf of her individual selfish desires in the first person “I”, will be silenced with her “amputated tongue”.

The poem ends with the words “I am ready as I’ll ever be” For me, the words bespoke not just of a wedding or a wedding tradition as the title of the collection implies but rather marriage itself.   How many people are ever truly prepared for marriage or having a partner? No one. Regardless of sexual preference or gender, is anyone ever really prepared? In the end, when it comes the strength of love for another person, even with fear of the future, it’s best to forth with the promise that will be made at a wedding collection of poetry can upon reading allow someone to

“anchors aweigh my der the anchor’s hope if you pull it you’ll be adrift” from the poem "Wedding Pulls"

The self titled poem “Wedding Pulls” in the chapter in the “Ring” section talks about the wedding tradition and the symbols that the tradition represents. The line “that’s not a thimble it’s a cup buy me a drink of love no the next round’s on me” talks about how the symbol of being an old maid is over. The of being an old maid can be turned on it’s head and used as something to celebrate the love that never existed being considered an old maid. “The next round’s on me” represents the idea of burying the past to live for the future.

In the last chapter “Anchor”, representing the upcoming adventure of a marriage, the reader is left with poems that depict sadness in words such as “bucket of ash” and “ghost” in the poem “Wake”.  The heavy weight of the actual symbol of an anchor itself is found in the words of each poem.

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J.K. Daniels speaks of the fear, sadness, and reality of marriage in the tradition of marriage. In the Southern tradition of Wedding Pulls, where bridesmaids receive a charm representative of their fortune or their future, of hope, J.K. talks about the reality of the situation. A wedding is a promise full of hope but it is the “pull” or “tug” such as the fear and sadness that underlies that promise.   in the end, J.K. Daniels  is a success because she won the 2015 New Southern Voice Book Prize. More importantly she  was able to successfully write about that special promise  that "pulls" or bonds two people in love together when it comes to the sacrament of marriage and the tradition of a wedding.  ;D