Live, From the Delay
by Ryan Flaherty
Small Fires Press | May 2009
Small Fires Press makes perhaps some of the most lovely letterpress poetry books that anyone these days has to offer. Live, From the Delay is a small accordion of a chapbook whose pages you want to continue to touch as soon as the small volume has left your hands. Each poem folds out for you; each word is an indentation on beautifully textured paper.
The first page of Flaherty’s text is an epigraph from Anne Carson. The book is one long poem, and you must fold out each page before you begin reading. The book itself folds out like an accordion in the same way that each page’s poetry does, and on the back of it are indented images of the original pages that Flaherty used when first writing the book. Notes in the back explain that the layout of the book is meant to mirror the writer’s process.
]After the reader of this book allows its sophisticated layout and the complex ideas behind it to settle, what matters most is Flaherty’s text. The poet gives his own meaning to the use of a colon, and does so well. His images are dream-like in a sense that many of them are impossible, but they are grounded enough that they don’t feel like dreams, but like a poet’s reality: “I had wanted a yellow bird / on a branch in my hand / What I got was: yellow birding / a hand, the yellow of bird, / a bird yellowing a nest,” Flaherty sings the first page.
]Flaherty’s images repeat as Live, from the Delay continues but with new, stronger ideas alive in them. Many of these images evoke nature, such as “plump as a fish eye out of water” and others prove more imaginative, like “A coat falling in a mirror is not / a person”. Flaherty intertwines reality with a precise dreamworld nearly seamlessly.
Both Flaherty’s poem and the physical nature of the book it is in present its owner, reader with a rare gift: the marriage of perfected verse and rare object.