ANYTHING BUT HUMAN
DARYL LIM WEI JIE
“The land is furrowed deep with worry. The angsana trees are turning orange
with pain.” This collection emerges, squeaking and poorly oiled, from this rubbish heap we’ve all piled up. It revels in the transfixing beauty of this last age of man. These poems have dwelt too close to the nuclear waste facility. These poems have traversed through fields of madness for grains for truth. These poems attempt to wring the last dregs out of language. Anything but Human grasps for a poetry beyond our collective exhaustion.
Something’s astir in the air. It’s the sound of atoms and molecules reconfiguring ceaselessly in this hologrammatic spin of words. Daryl Lim’s sensual book is a Bacchanalia of banal and familiar objects crystallised into revelations. Savour the odd dreams and piquant insights: Whether it’s Mrs Lee of ‘Parkway’ who is “hypotenuse to the railing of ageing steel,” or someone slithering “towards the counter/to the expired tunes of Christmas” in ‘McDonald’s with the Death Penalty’, there’s a frisson running throughout Lim’s exploratory multi-verse. You won’t know exactly what you’re in for, but you are game.
- Yeow Kai Chai, One to the Dark Tower Comes
In Daryl Lim’s Anything But Human, we encounter a world that is simultaneously sundered and barely begun, where debts are paid but only in hindsight and on discount, and where the self is to be found, yes, but always fragmented and in places we hardly expect it to be found: in the eye of a suckling pig, in organic jam, in flies.
These are poems of aftermath and prototype. They are parables of how to survive a cataclysm we imagine has yet to come, but has actually already arrived. And in the spirit of all the prophets of old, Daryl Lim, with a wink and smirk, heralds both The end is to come! and We missed our chance!
These poems are deeply funny, even if they are also almost always deeply sad. I suspect Daryl has invented a kind of poem that is emotional, minus the tears and I am moved by these assemblages of song enough that tonight I feel I can finally rest knowing there is a poet who is brave enough to speak out of the comfort of the conventional categories and fling us in all of our tragic and glorious disarray. What a feat!
- Lawrence Lacambra Ypil, The Experiment of the Tropics
After his debut A Book of Changes, Daryl turns his historian’s eye to dissecting our present. Anything but Human takes our tendencies to consume, commoditise and capitalise to their rightful absurdist end. This surreal hellscape is lit up by language at its most pliable and playful. Daryl draws surprising beauty from bureaucratese and revels in defying expectations with wit then bathos. Here you will find a sensory playground for the overworked bourgeoisie, a zen retreat for production factors in a post-capitalist world, a city deconstructed that you will come to see anew.
- Amanda Chong, Professions