Jeffrey McDaniel


Jeffrey McDaniel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1967. He received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from George Mason University. He is the author of five poetry collections, including Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), and Alibi School (Manic D Press, 1995), which the poet Bill Knott called “fresh, provocative, nondoctrinaire.” According to the poet Khaled Mattawa, McDaniel’s work “chronicles the emotions that jolt us as we stare into the abyss and pulls us away when we’ve seen enough.” The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, his poems have appeared in two volumes of Best American Poetry. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in the Hudson Valley in New York. Source

Holding Up

       How you holding up?

High waves of anxiety

mixed with periods of surface calm.


       How you holding up?

By a thread. I’m being held up

by a single thread and what scares me

is not knowing what’s inside

the liquid I’m being held up over

and is it cold?


       How you holding up?

With both hands. I’m holding it up

with both hands.


       How you holding up?

Like a bank with Monolopy money in the drawers.

Like a three-day-old birthday cake.

Like a middle finger out a car window.

Like a bad perm on a rainy day.

Like the hand of a mediocre student in the back row

who wants to show he’s participating

but doesn’t want to get called on.

Like the eyebrows of Winona Ryder.

Like the fist from a pile of rubble.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Mental Health

Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


a figure of speech wherein a writer raises a question and then immediately answers it


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”


a word, object, action, character, or concept that embodies and evokes a range of additional meaning and significance.