side blog — DaDaDa

Catherine Daly

If you can judge a poet by her poetry, and if I’m any good at it, then in fifty years time, Catherine Daly, author of “DaDaDa”, will be one of those elderly ladies who, faced with a social emergency and a packed station concourse, will get out her umbrella and slice through. Nicely and politely, mind. Unless.

It’s her confidence, her determination. This collection is a romp of poetry, from a sure young woman, full of trickery and sound effects, intelligence and play. It has its dark moments, but Daly survived, got poems, moved on.

Let’s look at the poetry itself. This is Checkerboard Down, a representative poem from the sequence In Medias Res. Read the poem out loud, enjoy the rhythm, the pleasure of the sound, common to so many of poems in this collection. The happiness of the form contradicts the depression of the subject, a battle resolved, in the poems in this particular sequence, by their development into near sound poetry.

It’s possible desire imprisons.
It’s the case will imprisons.

Exodus, escape, emptiness purifies.
Inside love’s fence penned: unicorn, bear for baiting.
In the house, in the demesne, domain, fille, fief, ho hum home:
page, captive: I shall be released.

My reason is murdered, kill all processes,
init impeded in me enterprise,
fullness.

It’s
It’s

   us esc    emptiness
     love’s    ce penned           baiting
     house     he demesne,         ho hum
    captive    hall be re

My        is            processes
init           in
full

Another poem, INSTALL, from the Palm Anthology (Palm as Palm Pilot), a sequence of love poetry. STOP. I’m taking a quick out. When I was a kid, the world stated that us computer geeks were spotty smelly horrible trolls who wouldn’t know love if it came up and bit us, not that it ever would. Now I’m reviewing a collection of poetry in which a pocket computer forms the theme for love poetry. Bugger it. Sorry about that. Here’s the poem, from early in sequence:

the vibrating motor
soldering
iron heats
a point. Plot
not
missing messages:
the metal contacts
            mental
come into contact.

Start the vibrator.
Press “read.”

(I should say “invisible”)
Change invisible to visible.
Press “write.”
Right.
Press.

See what I mean about her happy language? Those are the most blatant puns I’ve found in the collection so far; there are some other outrageous ones around. This is a simple poem. There’s a great deal more complexity to explore.

Although I’ve illustrated the dominant form in the collection, there is much more. My favourite, which I am not going to quote here, is From the Baltimore Catechism. I do not know the Baltimore Catechism. I understand it is some kind of fundamentalist religious propaganda. That is my perspective. Daly seems to have taken the words, sorted them, removed the duplicates, listed them: there’s the poem. Read what you want into it. I do.

Look, it’s obvious I like this collection. It’s a full of life young woman’s collection, full of a young woman’s concerns. The things that are missing are the things you experience as you grow older. This is going to sound nasty, and it’s not meant to be, but I think her poetry will grow significantly when she’s had some rough times. It’s missing the tough edge of grief. It is good stuff, though.


DaDaDa
Catherine Daly
208 pages
Salt
August 2003
ISBN 1 876857 95 1