#2 Kayla Hunter, Mandrakes and Girls

If there’s one thing I’ve taken from my fleeting exposures to the craft of poetry, it’s the importance of blank space and the physicality of words. I remember much more poetry-savvy classmates using terms such as “tight” to describe the effect of a particular line. (More concerned with a piece’s content than its style, I looked on with glazed eyes.) Poetry, more than anything else, emphasizes the important physical roles of words: how they look on a page and sound in your head. For this reason, it was especially intriguing to see how poetry can be represented and manipulated in a virtual environment.

Both Mandrake Vehicles and Girls’ Day Out employed similar tactics with their poems: the rearranging of letters to form new words and meanings. However, I found this method to be more effective in both the “shards” section of Girls’ Day Out, which rearranged and repeated fragmented clips from a newspaper article about the murders of these girls, and in the poem itself, which highlighted certain words that alluded to their deaths. The staggered line breaks and clusters of words aided, in my opinion, to convey a feeling of urgency and confusion. In general, I found Girls’ Day Out to be more engaging because it combined “fact” with personal truth, observations with reflections, in order to form a solid and informative piece of work. (As a nonfiction major, I may have a bit of a bias here.)

It’s possible that what I consider to be Mandrake Vehicle‘s weaknesses, others might consider to be its strengths. Foremost, the stylistic liberties the author took with diction and syntax just lost me. The first slide of ungrammatical mish-mash resulted in me hardly being able to piece one phrase with the next and losing what I read almost as soon as I read it. If this effect was the artist’s intention, perhaps to convey something about the growth of these mandrakes, then congratulations, but as a reader it was a bit bothersome. This continued with nearly every slide.

After reading the section about the mandrake form, I concluded that it was a pretty awesome endeavor on the artist’s part, and I do like how layers are shed and in many ways the poem “grows” like a mandrake would, but the meaning behind the words themselves just wasn’t effective for me. Like many experimental poems in the past that I’ve read (and re-read and re-read, in desperate vanity), a larger meaning or purpose was lost on me. Instead all I saw was a pretty configuration of words.

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~ by kah117 on January 23, 2011.

One Response to “#2 Kayla Hunter, Mandrakes and Girls”

  1. Hello self. If you were to edit it this to make it more effective for this class, some of the fluffy anecdotal comments in the first paragraph would have to go. Expand on the ways that the blank space and physicality of the words in these pieces compares to that in print poetry.

    Foremost, it would be better if you/I addressed the efficacy of the medium of these pieces rather than their perhaps more traditional qualities (diction, syntax, etc.) Think digital. Think about what makes these forms different than print and WHY the authors chose to tell their stories digitally. Read more into these forms; don’t let yourself get turned off or alienated.

    And it might be hard, but try to let go of your book/print loving bias. It’s a hindrance.

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