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Poetry Pamphlet

Out-Spoken Press, May 2024

Paperback, 34 pages

ISBN: 9781738412501


How might the figuration of trees deform language?

Bark, Archive, Splinter is an ecopoetic experiment. Inspired, in part, by the commonplace book, by medieval texts, these fragments aim to bring together intimacies of wood, race, desire, via a sylvestral grammar and syntax, via a poetics of grafting.


'Books designed to be read in landscape format are uncomfortable. Yet, Gao’s pamphlet, with its hypermetric eco-conscious lines that “[spin] an agrestal tale”, justifies the 90-degree rotation. Even rotated, the poems threaten to spill over the book’s top edge. Time is nature; and nature, time. But in Gao’s implosive imagination, nature is also linguistic. Here, “woody debris litter the ground like consonants”, trees are saved from “redacted narratology”, sentences are “rotted sustenances”. Gao loosens the knotty cogitations of this work with a playful ear that hears “for” in “forage”, “agent” in “argent”, “denotes” in “detonates”. And, just as the mind might lose focus, Gao reorients with resplendently compressed damnations of anthropocentrism, phrased as inquiry: “So how long to give a plant its green card”. This pamphlet is a risk-taking and worthwhile forest of poetic deliberation and craft.'

Oluwaseun Olayiwola in The Guardian

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