understudies for air, Daisy LafargeThe author's name (lower case with first letter capitalised) and the title of the pamphlet (smaller lowercase and no caps) appear in a black, or dark brown cicle in the roughly the middle of the jacket. The lettering is white and stands out clearly. Behind this dark circle the whole jacket is a full colour photo. There appears to be a chain of some sort made of circles of metal looped over and around a stick or rode. That's in the middle. Behind it the photo is blurred but there are colours, blue, pink, green. It could be a garden way out of focus. To the top right there's an oval yellowy orange thing that could be the sun. Probably the sun between trees, slightly distorted and out of focus.

Sad Press, August 2017   £6.00

The lull of long sentences

The lull of long sentences is just the beginning. There’s also the lack of capital letters beginning them. And the last line of each poem ends without punctuation (except for ‘falsification air’ which ends with a question). It is as if this were one long ride, and Daisy Lafarge has much to tell us in her breathy style.

I learned to trust her voice after I considered her introductory page where she quoted Anaximenes — ‘The source of all things is air — with no full stop. If understanding air is understanding the world, then the poet is breaking the world down in manageable increments for us. Each poem is titled as a type of air. She draws us in, tumbling language while unapologetically staying within her frame.

In ‘falsification air’, she begins, ‘what can I pass on, you ask, / about methods of detecting the air?’ She ends the poem: ‘consider the sheets of air / gridlocked in double glazing, now / are you beginning to understand?’  I was.

I admired ‘childhood air’ where she talks about the vibes you pick up as a kid, without the vocabulary to convey or understand them — or indeed even as an adult when you try to re-live them — ‘attempting to hack memory with nothing but an egg timer, / the stuff comes apart like fiberglass.’

Symbols reappear: egg timer and hour glass — the slippage of time? And all types of grids, scientific mapping, yes, but also gridlock as paralysis, as in that double glazed window. Her talent for just enough narrative while layering the abstract with the concrete kept me grounded.

In ‘eclosion air’, she writes about the husk of a world which ‘had fallen from its pedestal’. Then she reassures us:

                                               some things
stayed the same: the smell of cordite, shadows
of hands dancing over coffee tables, the walk-of-shame
lino in staff kitchens, the smutting of dun-colour set
into pavements, as if the asphalt were filled with seeds.

I love that lino; I can’t help it. This is a brave collection.

Candyce Lange