Montlack, Michael. “Daddy”, NYQ, 2020.
Michael Montlack’s new collection of poems, “Daddy” is a tribute to the daddies in our lives and more specifically to his own daddies. I found myself redefining “daddy” as I read and the part of daddy I have played for others in my life. Many people in our lives are daddies to us in one way or another. We see those various father figures through poems that are political, personal, humorous, sexy and even silly. Montlack’s “daddies” include a “dramatic twin sister, mysterious birth mother, aloof ex-boyfriend, even Stevie Nicks and Medusa”.
We have all begun to see gender, these days, as a social construct and with Montlack, we see that daddies do not have to be male. To understand those who were his daddies, Montlack examines his own family and himself as a gay male and as an adopted child. He also looks at himself as a daddy, “Hey, Daddy, can I buy you a beer?”
The poet has said that what he knows of masculinity, he learned from his mother. The poet also includes his chosen family— members from all walks of life including Stevie Nicks and Fire Island’s “Cherry Grove Carla”. We are taken to nightclubs and to rural Vermont to the places that are important to his becoming who he is as well as the places of the imagination. We, likewise, see the larger picture of life and thoughts on morality. There are profound thoughts here.
I love the tour of gay life that we take with all of its joys and sorrows, the friendships and the loss of friends. We arrive at self-acceptance after quite a journey and to self-realization expressed in gorgeous lines of poetry. Above all else, what is here is humanity, the sense of belong to something bigger than all of us. Just as Montlack defines and redefines himself, we do the same as his lines lead us to introspect. Reality through humor and irony bring us to better understand ourselves and to recognize the daddies of the world. By bringing desire and identity, family and how we live we see the truth of who we are.
“It’s all packaging. Sugary
Glaze on a stale donut. Like
selecting the perfect outfit
to wear to an orgy— no,
simply deliver me
the way I came in.
I have always found that poetry gives me the impetus to think about what I have rarely, if ever, thought about before. That is certainly the case here and I shall be thinking for quite a long time.