(SPAM Cuts) ‘p // toG’ by Anthony Daly
The first of July’s SPAM Cuts is Anthony Daly’s poem ‘p // toG’, which you can read here. Text by Maria Sledmere.
>I prise Anthony Daly’s latest from a fresh, aromatic can of Colin Herd’s Adjacent Pineapple. I’m not sure what the title, ‘p // toG’ refers to. It could be code, initials, algebra, pianissimo flowing into a healthy big G chord. That certain paradox of acidic sweetness. Inspired by music (especially modernist forms of composition), Daly’s poems are often concerned with the relationship between stasis and duration, the inevitable flux contained in language. In lieu of ornate woodcuts, you might imagine this poem carved, charmingly, in the trunk of a tree. Ephemerality attends precision. The imagist influences are clear, with distilled word pairings slowly cascading down the page, each one chiming with aesthetic satisfaction. There’s also a reflexive glance at compositional process: the poem begins with ‘Drawn, smoking / oil-shapes strum’. Already we’re presented with textural physical events, from the sonic renderings of ‘strum’ to the idea of a nonhuman art implied by ‘smoking / oil-shapes’, different substances fusing together.
>‘p // toG’ can be a sort of cocktail you savour, transitioning through sensory layers. As a reader, you might choose to do the work of semantics, cruising along Daly’s crisp concatenations; or you could simply relish the poem’s prettiness, its sense of an uber-aesthetic, a sort of auto-painting of language solidifying image. The casual and repeated use of hyphenation between words compounds wisps of impression, forges an element of chance. I think of embodied, floating notes caught as in a light net, loosely enmeshed. I sense a smarter critic might be able to parse the careful patterns of consonance, assonance and alliteration—find some encoded trellis of ‘shape’ and meaning, as in the tricky mesostics of John Cage. What occurs in the nods to classic poetic tropes (the haiku-alluding ‘cut wet wood’, the Romantic ‘blackbirds’, the Modernist condensation of ‘day-night-noon’, the hybridised potential of the ‘blues’)? How do these tiny images unfold from each other? Regardless, in Daly’s delicately spun poetics, you can dwell awhile in the ambient timbre, read aloud and listen for subtleties of lilt and sound; the way he paints so sensitively over the silence, negotiating white space with gossamer subtlety. You can lose the human ‘I’ so lyrically, find other sensoriums in the miniaturising events of ‘rain threads’, ‘light / splinter’ and ‘crescent / snare’…<Forgive me for cheesily glossing Wordsworth>… You can look at Daly’s veil of ‘nature’ and maybe find pleasure there.
Text: Maria Sledmere