Predicting The Next Big Advertising Breakthrough Using A Potentially Dangerous Method by Daniel Scott Tysdal (Couteau Books, 2006)
So when an Irish critic is confronted by Daniel Scott Tysdal’s
anarchic and provocative work, a cross between venerable French Surrealism
and modern computerised imagery, between poetry and conversation, art and
school-room jottings, there are initially mixed reactions. What precisely
has Tysdal created here? Perhaps if this critic had lived longer in
first thing any critic must do is ignore the blurbs on the jacket. They
will always praise and never criticise, so they will never show balance.
They are not intended to. Tysdal, born in
“A man walks into a room with a gun in his belt. A
man with a gun in his belt takes one last drink of
water. A man with a gun might wonder which far
off glacier that water was rescued from . . . “
This sort of thing is adventurous in a black sense and makes us think; what is the relation among the man, the film, and Tysdal’s imagining of it all through commentative poetry? There is something slightly obscene about one’s uncertainty as to whether the images are real. These days constant media bombardment of scenes of violence has done odd and not-nice things to our ways of perception and to our reactions.
There are longer prose pieces which smack of self-indulgence. At the risk of seeming patronising, one should say that younger poets do this sort of thing and grow out of it if they are any good. “T-SHIRTS OR TOYS: CRIB NOTES FOR A ONE-YEAR-OLD-NEPHEW, OR UPON PLAYING WITH JUDE AND TRYING TO AVOID ANOTHER ANXIETY ATTACK.” (the upper-casing here tends to shout) is in fact a rather beautiful examination of the poet’s own vulnerability, a poetical meditation on death and its inevitability a good measure beyond what we all used to think in the days when we carried Sartre in our jeans’ back-pocket; no, this is good writing, gracious, feeling, tender, understated:
And who cares if lesson one is what the poet said about that something that with each of us will die? Who cares whether with you and me that something will be the heat from this fireplace, the snapping timber against flame, or what, while holding up the ball, you said in syllables that together just don’t work?
Against this is the under-graduate lament of ‘Cohen,’ written to guess who, kicking off with the forgettable lines: “Leonard I'm selling everything I think about the CBC. / Leonard July 27, 2003, and my student loans are still unpaid . . .” The rest is too insular, self-relative, to mean much to anyone who wasn’t there, so to speak, and doesn’t transcend the author – or Canada, for that matter – as good poetry should. “Ghosts,” on the other hand, is pure experiment, an exercise in pushing the reader into the wall of his own ignorance, in a sense, inviting participation – another poem asks for a folding-over of pages – in the sorting out of meaning and adherence to form. Arrows indicate, or seem to, points of joining of one piece to another. Tysdal would be an exciting chap to hear in a workshop. He’d have, for formalists, a lot of explaining to do; but nonetheless the effort at working through, and with, Tysdal’s writing is rewarding. He makes us think about what we read and how we read it. And that alone makes this extraordinary book worth buying.
was born in
was born in