The Dailiness by Lauren Camp
The Dailiness is a door through which we enter and find a world where the mundane transcends and becomes magic. Neatly separated into three sections, the poems in this collection unfold from Camp’s present life to detailed moments of years past. Familial relationships, modes of transport, the high desert landscape where Camp lives and cities far beyond are all gathered into stanzas that wander across the page in experimental forms, as well as stanzas that are stitched together in more traditional forms.
The way in which these subjects are transformed into the unruly and surprising creates a kind of tension that causes the reader to question her knowledge of the ordinary. In “And Now Your Would,” “sound rolls sideways in your mouth” and in “November,” lovers quarrel, “This is a lopsided world when you smile/reminds me of things that have been discarded…” leads to “every tooth of exhaustion/ripped out, every road lined in pine. If there was a night,/I would have slept.”
Camp brings all of herself to the page in her newest book of poems. Years spent as a fabric artist are evident in the ways she experiences the world and translates this complex, multi-layered form into a one-dimensional plane. Indication of this is found in “For Those of You,” where hope is crinkled, night is flannel, and “she wove us into words,/her voice twined with wine…” As well as in “Ten Years,” where pain threads, days scratch and tongues unravel. Yellow knits and wind weaves in “A Form of Light” and in “Dream Pantoum” life is a cuff and your mind is a tiny sock. It’s because of these splendid juxtapositions that the reader is able to brush up against the texture of an encapsulated moment and feel the variations of reality from one memory to the next, from one moment to the next and from one day to the next.
Camp’s love of jazz is also clearly a point of inspiration for these poems. If she were to play an instrument in this collection it would undoubtedly be the letter “s.” Her use of alliteration sounds bold with “s” and imbues musical delight. As heard in “In Provincetown,” where rhythm is strong and the musicality of her choice swings on its use, “talking stripes of light,/sucking sound of rubber boot/on saturated shore,/dug-up slurp of quahogs from sand.” More “s” slips though in “Thelonious Monk On A Subway,” “Fixed Gaze of Winter” and others. Her use of repetition and line breaks also stimulate the sensation of music. Another great example of Camp’s attuned ear can be heard in “At Echo Canyon” where the iteration of the word rock (over 70 times) functions as a downbeat both calling attention to itself and disappearing simultaneously.
The Dailiness begins with a poem entitled, “Looking Around These Days,” where tiny ants march through the landscape of the poem on several different occasions. These ants haunt by the final section where night and moon, sleeplessness, desire and stillness are echoed in a kind of diligence akin to the ant. A presence that while seemingly small, but because of the strength in its multiplicity, can move ground, shift earth and disrupt blind habits. This is mirrored in the measurement of living this collection provides. A daily dose of longing, regret, desire, and memory when spooned in small increments, as in the episode of one single day, becomes a reduction where routine muffles vitality. When each of these single days is compiled into the force of years, of a life, the dosage becomes monumental and the earth shifts. In this way, each poem converts into a breath serving as the tenuous reminder of impermanence and the necessity of witnessing the detailed moments of our lives. Camp’s ability to conjure curiosity in her reader through the seduction of what is familiar casts a spell. When read aloud, especially, the call is impossible to resist. Go willingly. Become unraveled.
Jamie Figueroa is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has been published in various literary journals including Split Oak Press, The Santa Fe Literary Review, The Yellow Medicine Review, Flash: International, ekleksographia and Sin Fronteras. Jamie teaches creative writing at New Mexico School for the Arts. She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship as well as the Jack Kent Cooke graduate scholar award.