For all their snap, crackle, and pop—I’d recommend sitting on the edge of your seat—Jordan Davis’s witty poems have surprising undercurrents of feeling and substance. Words singly and in groups, images, ideas jump off the page, but they stick around too. Yeah, No is an amusing, original, and thoroughly engaging book.
At once sensory and nonsensical, incisive and dead serious, Yeah, No is a syntacto-semantic plumbing project where the pipes are made to sing. Each poem contains the instructions for reading it, resulting in a kind of self-productive instruction manual: “What we call ‘subject’ / Is not the unfathomable X… // Complete thought arches / Over the map like a diamond.” If you follow the games, you can win the rule, whose reward is a kind of dizzy lucidity that only poetry can produce.
I’m always on the lookout for poems that in their complete grounding and execution are unassailable facts of language happening in the moment of oscillation between authenticity and artifice. Jordan Davis always delivers. The poems of Yeah, No strike quick, they take the money from your wallet and leave a calling card without a number. I find them breathtaking, hilarious, full of wit, surprise, lyric delicacy and edge, and I value them to the same degree that they negate everything I’m trying to do, which is to say totally. It is a sweet if brief obliteration.