Lighted Distances is not a collection of poems but a varied meditation made of 382 haiku-like three-line stanzas and eleven brief inclusions of prose. It began as a loose haiku journal of a year spent in the sagebrush and juniper country of southcentral Oregon, where forty-five years ago I first came to believe I might be a poet and writer. The sequence gathered a further dimension from my longtime interest in the origin and nature of the universe, life, and consciousness. I found myself sketching a kind of cosmic creation story, based on readings in science and philosophy as well as my own questions, hunches, and spiritual inclinations. The book could be seen as a meditation on two places: a patch of open country at the fringe of the dryland American West, and the starry wilderness we call the Cosmos.
Advance Praise for Lighted Distances
“If the cosmos can be a landscape, John Daniel peoples the horizon with winsome enigmas. His book brims with detailed observation and abundant thought by glimpse and glance, by three-line fragments and concise meditations. Thickets of words in prose alternate with spare 'dryside' glints to form a mix that feels essential to the book’s cosmic view. Daniel gives readers abundant room for musing, wondering, and the thought required to recalibrate one’s bargain with this life in space and time. Read this and be part of incandescent starlight.”
—Kim Stafford, author of Singer Come from Afar
“John Daniel’s writing has always been a North Star. Reading Lighted Distances is refreshing and clarifying, a mighty breath. This precious world still shines, still revives us, and Daniel’s work always guides us back into deeper love for it in some new way."
—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Voices in the Air and The Tiny Journalist
“John Daniel’s seasonal round of haiku-like poems reminds me of Matsuo Basho’s great travel record, The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But while Basho wandered the northern reaches of 17th century Japan, Daniel hunkers down in Oregon’s remote high desert. Reporting on the doings of the locals—the deer, coyotes, hawks, junipers, aspens, clouds, and occasional humans he shares his days with—he detects a “glint of sentience” everywhere he looks. With prose interludes on cosmology and the origins of consciousness, Lighted Distances reverberates with insight and wonder.”
—Charles Goodrich, author of Watering the Rhubarb