Picking up Daniel Thomas Moran’s seventh poetry collection, A Shed for Wood, I found the very title intriguing. I wondered at its importance and so turned to the writing itself, intent on discovering the ideas and implications stowed within — its “poetic” meaning, so to speak. What I did discern was that such an approach was ill-suited to this work. Reviewer Frances Spurrier, for instance, suggests in Write Out Loud that the “wood shed can become perhaps a poignant symbol of a rural Irish ancestry.” If these suggestions are not unfounded – the book’s back cover tells us that “Daniel Thomas Moran is a poet whose American sinews were birthed by Irish forebears” – and while such possibilities should not be discounted, I would suggest that the front cover of the publication, which consists of an image of a wood shed, better expresses the title. Perhaps A Shed for Wood, quite simply, literally means “a shed for wood”.
Let us consider “The River Might Be a Woman”. In a poem associating the Warner River with a “beautiful woman”, Moran observes that, “it seems / to be a metaphor / going nowhere”. Indeed, this is an apt description of this collection. Take “At Davisville, New Hampshire”.
Here is the place I have found,
of fertile earth between tumbled stone.
Arguably, reading these openings lines, one is inclined to expect metaphorical depth. The poem, however, continues:
Where old men lean thick arms
upon the tails of pick-ups,
on autumn mornings and others,
and settle the matters of a day.
Quickly, it becomes apparent that this is not the case. This poet does not deal in obscurity nor is he beguiled by a need to do so, unlike a great many perhaps in contemporary poetry. Rather, Moran’s poems have a tendency to be about something.
“At Davisville”, quite simply, describes; creates an image of a specific place in New Hampshire. Returning to “The River”, the poem proceeds:
It has captivated me
in ways which are
not so obvious, and which
do not lend themselves
to my feeble pryings.
I am content with that.
and I want to be
free to marvel.
Moran writes about simple, seemingly insignificant, everyday occurrences and he marvels at them. He acknowledges thoughts commonly experienced yet rarely appreciated. This is certainly not to say he looks for meaning in these occurrences; he does not. Rather, he is satisfied with an unreasoned fascination. Therein lies the error in my initial approach to this text, for the reader too must content themselves with such blind captivation. Take for example, “To The Bug Who Perished in My Drink”:
To the bug who just per—
ished in my drink:
You have caused me to take……
for a think………
This is of course a familiar incidence; one often witnesses an insect drowning in their drink. One does not, however, think it worthy of much attention. In this particular instance, Moran puts pen to paper, captures the very moment, and so gives it that worth.
It should be noted, however, that the simplicity of both subject matter and writing style in no way undermine this collection. Rhythm and metre are subtle yet controlled, and Moran does tackle the weighty questions of spirituality, love, life and death. What I seek to highlight in this review, however, is the refreshing, unpretentious, amusing way in which he does so. With childlike awe and enthusiasm, A Shed for Wood both embraces and celebrates life in its entirety.