The functional and non-functional collide in Jaydn DeWald’s common tones in haunted time—a series of prose poems disguised as operating instructions, product descriptions, fine print, the “traffic of a dead world” (Devin Johnston). Merging felt experience and ubiquitous nonpersonal “writing,” these 17 untitled text boxes charge our commerce-driven, art-averse language with music, memories, personalities, and loss.
In these pages reality—like a spoon—can bend. So ends the first poem in Jaydn DeWald’s new chapbook common tones in haunted time, and it is thrilling to read the shape-shifting poems that follow. DeWald, jazz musician and poet, translates the musical method of common tone modulation (when two chords are connected through a single note to bridge the distance between two keys) into a poetry that spins out from single word repetitions to bridge a stunning array of syntactical, tonal, and emotional shifts. This is poetry of spectacular virtuosity.
- Barbara Tomash
Every silhouette in common tones in haunted time is sharply defined, and it comes from the quality of light in DeWald’s poems. This book’s title sent me into the cinematic screen of these poetic scenes with an idea about the emotional resonances that layered sounds can invoke, and I saw the lit-up path that traveled further into density of image, narrative, and reference, and in the shadows, just barely caught by the light’s reach, there was memory and dream and the decisions made in present time. The thing that grounds all these poems is the lush object that can be both physical fantasy and minutely recollected sense memory. DeWald writes “I mean, what is real, anyway? (It is what it is.)” and it is in that parenthetical that I want to exist with these poems.
- Ginger Ko