||Daniel Jones 1959-1994
by Stuart Ross
CANADA LOST a provocative, accomplishedwriter -- and the Toronto small-press community lost a friendand activist -with the death of Daniel Jones on February 13.
Jones, 34, was known primarily for hisautobiographically based fiction and poetry, as well as for his work as aneditor. He was the author of seven chapbooks and two full-length works,the poetry collection The Brave NeverWrite Poetry (CoachHouse, 1985) and the novel Obsessions (Mercury, 1992). He alsoco-edited, with Shaunt Basmajian, OtherChannels: An Anthology of New Canadian Poetry (Associate Members ofthe League of Canadian Poets, 1984). In addition, Jones had completed two majorunpublished works, including The PeopleOne Knows: Toronto Stories, a collection of interwoven fictions.
Born in Hamilton in 1959, Daniel Jonesmoved to Toronto in 1977. He held an eclectic array of jobs, including grillcook, landscaper, and despatcher in a psychiatric hospital. He also worked asan administrator for a variety of writers` groups and organized poetry readingsat downtown bars and galleries.
He was known simply as Jones when heburst onto the Toronto poetry scene in 1983 with the vitriolic Jack and Jill in Toronto (Unfinished Monument).He quickly became notorious for his outrageous -- often drunken --readings, one of which he delivered naked. He wrote about friends, revolution,death, and his time in detox. It was a sober but no less brazen Jones who laterdenounced his own poetry and went on to a turbulent career as fiction writer,critic, editor, and creative-writing teacher.
In 1989, he and Robyn Gillam foundedStreetcar Editions, a small press devoted to publishing lesser-knownwriters, and a year later Jones became coordinator of the Toronto Small PressBook Fair. In 1992, he became editor of Paragraphmagazine,a position he left shortly before his death. He was also a contributing editorof What! magazine and had servedon the editorial collectives of Piranha and Border/Lines. Jones`s highly politicized book reviews regularly appearedin such publications as Books in Canada and What!
As he metamorphosed from enfant terrible to nearly respectableacademic, he never stopped startling audiences. For the 1992 launch of Obsessions, Jones wielded a whip,read sections of his work over recordings of himself reading other sections,and then literally launched his novel into the audience with a giant slingshot.