as counterpoint to this compressed mass a longing by Jaydn DeWald


The functional and nonfunctional collide in Jaydn DeWald’s as counterpoint to this compressed mass a longing—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 21 untitled text boxes charge our commerce-driven, art-averse language with music, memories, personalities, and loss.


DeWald’s made spaces of time unfolding into the tease of novel place, but, remember, a noun’s a sound, “a pillowy space in which to listen, and disappear.” What’s compressed here unfurls into atmosphere for the ear.

—Magdalena Zurawski, author of The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom


In Jaydn DeWald’s as counterpoint to this compressed mass a longing, poetic prose is reimagined as a form of punk rock embroidery. That is to say, the ease of language met with the painstaking patience of a poet resulted in a text that feels both dangerous and meticulous. As so appropriately stated by the poet, “This is a risk you are willing to take. You have been waiting a long time for this. You will not allow this to be surrendered upon demand. This represents your life’s work. Nay, your lifeblood.” The wait is over. Now comes the anticipation of what else is to come.

—truong tran, author of Four Letter Words


Sample poem from as counterpoint to this compressed mass a longing


Turn around. Today’s your turn in the barrel. Turning toward the sea, the actress felt a vast chamber throw its windows open inside her—an extraordinary turn of events. Like bumbling into this turn-of-the-century Italian dresser with tortoise carvings. His parents would be turning in their separate graves. Now let us turn to the artist’s early sketches: dumpy factory towns, nude boys looking drugged and frightened. Farcically she turns her empty pockets out, releasing an odor of vinegarish flowers. Turned the entire seven-year plan on its head. As we watch, our son half turns back, gripping his little orange cardboard suitcase, then disappears through the crowded gate. What, dost thou turn away and hide thy face? His heart turned to stone floating in deep space. Water turning to hair turning to fire turning to skin. Give us a turn, will you? Return to the bleached-walled kitchen in which I can still hear my mother (who will die before the leaves turn) scatting over her clumsy darningwork. No turns—children playing. How many times must I tell you to turn that down? At the turn of the path, one may receive a sudden, mist-shrouded vision of the mountains. The worm has definitely turned for you, man. The audience turned to the back of the theater, the usherettes casting flashlights over the darkened seats. The old Vietnamese poet turning on tiptoe at the end of the pier, swinging his deer-hide scarf. You can turn everything upside down (a wineglass, a small porcelain toad) but you won’t find anything. Years have passed since he first turned her face to the sunlight, on the white page.



Jaydn DeWald is a writer, teacher, jazz bassist, and the author of two chapbooks, The Rosebud Variations: And Other Variations (Greying Ghost, 2018) and In Whose Hand the Light Expires (Yellow Flag Press, 2018). His poems, stories, and critical essays have appeared in Best New Poets 2015, Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz & Literature, The Collagist, Fairy Tale Review, south: a scholarly journal, West Branch, and many others. He lives with his partner and two kids in Bogart, Georgia, where he’s a PhD candidate at the University of Georgia. 


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