DJ Dolack is the author of Whittling a New Face in the Dark (Black Ocean, 2013), as well as the chapbooks No Ser. No (Greying Ghost) and 12 Poems (Eye For An Iris Press). His video reviews and Tourist Trap, NYC series can be found at Coldfront Magazine. He teaches writing at Baruch College and lives in Jackson Heights, Queens.
The poems in Dolack’s scrupulously crafted debut are determined to make something distinctive and even beautiful out of their speaker’s sense of apartness from this world and its fellow occupants. That they manage to do so despite persistent doubts that words can adequately bridge that apartness as they “fumble forth / a wet mess like a soft // but definite new fawn” makesWhittling a New Face in the Dark a complex, hard-won, and ultimately affirming achievement.
Dolack’s voice is steadfast, unflappable—he never apologizes for the conditions under which our affection must be born. What is the difference between love and admiration? These poems intimate: Be grateful you are alive, even though it is hard. Love your chaotic home. Whittling a New Face in the Dark 'is / what’s come of / people giving it to people straight.'
DJ Dolack’s mouth is 'pistol-clean...oiled' so he can sing, 'the heart’s animal / heaves up terrific things and rests / against the ribcage like a fighter been already cut.' These exquisites will burrow so deep inside your chest they will steal your breath. Dolack writes beyond consequence. Yeah. He’s fearless.
—Peter Jay Shippy