The Underworld of Lesser Degrees

by Daniel Y. Harris

156 Pages, 6 x 9

Library of Congress Control Number:  2015910554

ISBN:  978-1-63045-000-7

Publication Date:  07/12/2015

Press Release

HD Cover for Reviews

Cover Art:  Lilith on the Stairs, 2001
by Daniel Y.. Harris  |


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The Underworld of Lesser Degrees by Daniel Y. Harris is a post-digital and post-human literary oeuvre whose vortices are replete with the language of kabbalah, alchemy, holy writ and the nuances of digital technology and social media. In illuminating a wide array of literary styles and varied poesis, The Underworld of Lesser Degrees balances an amalgam between nihilism and transcendentalism by burrowing through the minutiae of self and identity to conjure the image of a post-human self as an inventor, engraving tropes of originality from the littered density of the literary canon. The book scrapes the periphery of form and style, but not to extol a certain impossible obscurity, futility, abstraction, disdain, flippancy, or the realpolitik of viral media. Technology and hyperreality meet Judaic midrash and biblical exegesis in stanzas which seek to create a human being from the refuse of bandwidth. The Underworld of Lesser Degrees quests for a new spiritus, geist and religious ethos for the 21st century.


Ezra Pound valued "melopoeia" as an aspect of poetry that charges words with a musicality that extends language beyond normal meanings. Daniel Y. Harris' extraordinarily capacious The Underworld of Lesser Degrees brought me the pleasures of a music that is so delightful in its soundings—"such gorgeous nonsense"—that even if the poems were written in a foreign language I would have fallen in love with a text of "haloed dementia" that "escapes from handcuffs" of conventional lyrics. Beyond the text's sonic extravagance, Daniel Y. Harris is the "perfect mentor to lead us below up" in poetry that takes amazing risks in its willingness to showcase the writer's unprecedented range of tones and subjects (Yahweh, Allah, fetishism, pianos, pastrami sandwiches, forks, baseball, simplicity, chemical equations, and shit), massive knowledge base of secular and sacred literature (Kafka, Bloom, Nietzsche, Rimbaud, and Sartre), and scientific discourse. Daniel Y. Harris is among our most under-acknowledged major poets.

—Daniel Morris, Professor of English, Purdue University and author of Lyric Encounter: Essays on American Poetry from Lazarus and Frost to Ortiz Cofer

Daniel Y. Harris' The Underworld of Lesser Degrees is a regal feast of incisive signification. This rich and extensive collection of masterfully crafted poems roams uninhibitedly from the noxious to the sublime, all the while pressing and muscling toward the ultimate frontiers of both vision and language. Harris might be described as one of our new breed of urban imagists, fearless in his deployment of nuance and astonishing in his opening of alternate universes of meaning and experience.

—Carl Raschke, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Denver and author of Fire and Roses: Postmodernity and the Thought of the Body

This is the real avant garde, involving not the inane simplicity of unfamiliar patterns, but bringing to bear the full intellect, passion, and scholarship of which great work is capable. Daniel Y. Harris draws on Greek and Judaic mythologies, along with our latest technological discoveries and the media driven madness of today's world, to create a seamless vision of hope and Hell guarded by "the skull lice of ruined saints," from baseball to a World War II bunker in one impregnably cemented ecosystem of the mind.

—Jared Smith, author of To The Dark Angels

The Underworld of Lesser Degrees may be the first healthy literary baby of the digital age, formed as it is by a laser-like bombardment of disparate intelligences from prehistory through biblical times into, even, the theoretical future. The verbal hypertext of language, symbol, and alchemy—of beautifully assembled complex interchanges—pulsing here defies easy comprehension but exudes the light of brilliance for all who wish to see.

—Gordon Massman, author of Love, Death and 0.174

Daniel Y. Harris is a surrealist theologian, a Jewish mystic, a fantasist and above all else a poet of the unknown. The Underworld of Lesser Degrees is populated by an ingenious and undeniably ghastly array of imaginary demons, ghosts, angels, animals and other creatures who curse and sing to each other between these intertextual poems. In the same way their creator casts his literary spell around his readers, enticing them to share his occult dreams. These risky and at times risqué texts bear witness to the precocious talents of a magical and restless writer willing to guide us all into the terrible and enticing dark that surrounds us.

—Rupert M. Loydell, Senior Lecturer in English, Falmouth University and Editor of Stride in England, is the author of Ballads of the Alone