Daniela Cascella 'Singed' Paperback
'Singed' Daniela Cascella
Equus Press, 2017 Paperback, 168 pp.
“It starts with no story but a circular / It starts with no story but a spinning / It starts with no story but a spinning into before that is to come…” Daniela Cascella’s Singed: Muted voice-transmissions, after the fire starts not with creation, but destruction – a library ravaged by fire. What of the singed debris can be salvaged? Which of the disfigured inkblots deciphered? How much will be remembered? Re-written, re-invented, re-imagined? Singed, only to sing again?
The condition of instability permeating Cascella’s project is already conveyed by the book’s title, Singed, at once a reference to burning/singeing and a mistaken past form of “to sing.” The title thus posits writing as located at the interference of a burning and a singing, unmaking and making meaning. Writing, not foreknown or guaranteed, can here only be enchanted through rhythmic events: “Of hearing a rhythm in reading, a song sometime, voices sound words, wh-h mh-m maybe that is why.”
“The smell of singed paper haunts me. Is this a burning, is it a song? Sing, singed.” Cascella’s radically experimental poiesis conceives of text as a space of doing but also stillness, of transmission but also interference. In Singed shewrites criticism that includes silence, repetitions and dead ends; that retains mystery and the unspoken, in a language out of synch; that interrogates the very the necessity of using language: “Where does the necessity to speak and write arise from, and what are the hooks I can hold on to in the absence of records?”
This is a text that could only emerge out of an intensive dwelling on listening to sound, music and those inner and internalised voices that speak silently of our listening, the incantation that remains private until written or voiced, sliding to the centre of the spell, now preoccupied not so much with the sound world but a greater domain of the unheard, unintelligible, unspeakable, always moving voice.
From the Afterword by David Toop
“Singed is a concentrated and committed effort to surrender writing to sound as well as to find her own voice once again. In short, this section embodies all that is unique about Cascella’s writing. If Singed is fragmentary, it is also dub. […] in Singed that central question at the heart of Cascella’s writing is repeated, again, but with much greater volume: how is one meant to write and speak in the wake of experiences, confrontations and events that expose us to and remind us of the abyssal root of language?”––Adam Potts, Journal of Sonic Studies
“Cascella’s conjectures—what might be recovered from a site of destruction—her assemblage of a poetics from the ashes, a piecing together of fragments, stutterings, utterings, and silences feels like essential preparation for the work we might be tasked with in 2018 and beyond.” ––“Natasha Soobramanien, Looking Back on 2017: Literature”, BOMB Magazine
“The book rose out of uncertainty—including the question of if a publisher would be interested in such a text. Questions of readerships and market forces are very nearly unavoidable in this climate, which is maybe related to my desire ‘to read forever’. […This is] a book that challenges.” ––Tristan Foster, 3AM Magazine
“A mesmerising soundscape in which loss & recovery make concrete incursions into the writing process. The song of fire & the burning of books is a timely evocative metaphor of the importance of dissident writing like Cascella’s in a time of populist extremism. It brought to mind Canetti’s Auto da Fé in a lyrically compressed form.”––Louis Armand
“By means of improvisatory techniques spinning outward from the eye rhyme, in which similarities in spelling promise a rhyme that is not heard as such, Cascella’s rendering plastic of words time and again compels the reader to imagine and experience her writing’s multiple potential soundings. Singed is a powerful effort to compose from the memory of a writer without a library, a writer with a library destroyed.”––David Grubbs
“Polymorphous and polyphonic, Cascella takes us on a quiet, highly personal walk through an eclectic range of texts and recordings, exploring their resonances with grace, dignity and humour.”––Juliet Jacques
“This is a book about lost books, lost voices, learning to speak, no, to sing; to sing again, to read and write again after fire––it begins with what is lost. Yet, there is memory, recollection, impression; there is song that precedes speech––it might be called la lalangue. Encounters––literary, artistic, religious–resonate. Cascella’s writing is precise and ardent, leading the reader through a sophisticated, moving, intricate archive. It is a book to which I listen as I read it. I hear it now.”––Sharon Kivland
“Daniela Cascella is a literary ecstatic. She engages with the word—written, spoken, sung, depicted—at an essential point of being, at that place where the spirit, soul, or daimon resides.”––Joseph Schreiber, Roughghosts
“Cascella finds the grain of the voice in writing, drawing attention to words as both blunt signifiers and aetherial presences, teasing the distance between the two. She draws on a variety of traditions, whether Leiris, Michaux or Lispector, to make something uniquely her own, a way of writing that shimmers between narrative, memoir, criticism and sound made print.”––C.D. Rose
“I read Singed in a few days […] marvelling at its precision, its extraordinary rhythm. It will add richly to my library, physical and internal, of discourses of muteness.”––Time’s Flow Stemmed
“Daniela Cascella renders language a tactile object, something that can be held, coveted, torn, and burned. Summoned into corporeality through memory and meditation. It is transmitted from the tongue, transcribed onto the page. Singed is a masterpiece of experimental poetics, mining the unconscious for its written potential.”––Mike Corrao