‘How can anyone think it’s ok?’ says Daryl Haines. Poetry, the first collection of poems by the 18-year-old poet and artist explores, with crazy jokes, trenchant questions and sublime wit, what it is to become a man in a world where those in power: ‘Just lie back and enjoy the cruise/Through the black sticky waters/That will pay their dues’.
These are poems written to be performed, which Daryl does with dash, gusto and humour. You may have caught him at The Yard or at a street market – a tall figure with wild blonde hair, a gangly lion of a man. The brief foreword says ‘Be quiet and listen’ and you do.
There is equally much to interest the reader who likes to mull over his poetry. Daryl has illustrated each poem with an animal. He says: ‘The drawings don’t really relate to the poems, but I wanted it to be more than just a book of words and I like drawing animals.’ Sometimes the animal connects to the poem and sometimes not, but the juxtaposition weaves new imaginative threads for the thoughtful reader.
Daryl started writing poems to vent his growing awareness of feelings about himself and the world he lives in. The writing is an attempt to step through ‘a world of fronts’. He says: ‘I wanted to make myself a bit vulnerable by putting myself out there, to address these issues now before I become a man in a suit. I think I’m writing about things that a lot of people think. And comedy seems the best way to express myself. When I started writing the poems, I was worried I’d be judged so I used to go and read them to my sister. She was the only person who knew I was writing them until I published them.’
Don’t even start to write off this highly original volume as the usual wailing, teenage angst. Daryl’s confusion, anger and keen sense of the absurd is hurled at the reader/listener with snappy wordplay, wild rhythm and rhyme and unexpected imagery. I like Survival of the Shittest (illustrated with a drawing of a fly): ‘Tensions arise/From deceit upon lies’, and Strange Feelings: ‘Unable to be who I want/My genetic governor toils within/And declares confusion beneath the skin’.
Daryl is presently working on more poems but is reluctant to make any claims about changing the world: ‘I like to think my generation will make things better but the youth of every generation wants to change things.’
Daryl Haines’ book Poetry is available at £7 from firstname.lastname@example.org and from The Hat Shop, Past Sentence and The Yard in Faversham. He is also available to give readings of his poems.
White orbulous protector
Harnesser of knowledge
And visual director
A bowl for our knowledge porridge
I’ll give a little time to mull
This poem is about skulls
Text: Posy. Photography: Lisa