For my final project, I chose to craft a flash poem of my own and accompany it with a research essay that focused on how these manipulations of time and space on the part of the creators of Blankets by Craig Thompson and Dakota by YHCHI advocate for an experiential mode of communication that results in a full-body experience for the readers and viewers of the works. The research paper explains the theory behind experiencing graphic novels and flash poems in this way and the flash poem is my way of synthesizing and applying these ideas. It helped me to translate my emotions and experiences from reading/viewing these works into a creation of my own.
In terms of this new flash poem, I wrote an original poem entitled “in the event of retrospect.” The poem’s speaker reflects on a youthful love affair that was ultimately a doomed one with a kind of chagrin. It focusses on an aspect of growing up, and the poem is what might be seen as a sort of coming of age poem where the speaker looks back on times like these. These themes are present in Blankets and in Dakota as well. In my flash poem, I wanted the speed of the words appearing on the page to echo the speed of the speaker’s thoughts, as if it was stream-of-consciousness. This way, the words would appear to hit the reader/viewer and be in their mind as they are in the speaker’s. This manipulation of time could also reflect the tone of the speaker; certain vocal inflections that are reminiscent of certain emotions, like sarcasm, cynicism, or longing, make themselves present in the longer or shorter moments that the words are present on-screen.
In this way, the manipulation of time can create a kind of audial experience for readers/viewers, adding onto the idea of experiencing work like this on a bodily level. My poem manipulates space through the placement of words on the screen. The reader/viewer’s eyes travel to different places on the screen as the speaker travels through memory, or when she is actually physically moving. There is one point in the poem where the speaker discusses walking and the words do this on-screen. These manipulations of space might also reflect the physical and mental state of distress that the speaker feels when she relays this tale, and the somewhat erratic placement of the words on screen allows the viewer to feel this when they experience the flash poem. The pacing of the work and placement of the lines of the poem on-screen is outside the control of the reader/viewer, just like the experiences were out of the control of the speaker. The font is a type-face that reminded me of a type-writer. I associated this with nostalgia and memory in general, and it was this feeling of mine that I wanted to convey in the poem to readers/viewers.
The music in the poem adds onto this idea of experiencing the work on a full-body level that goes beyond simply reading the work by allowing readers/viewers to feel the rhythm of the poem and hear the emotion that exists within it. The song I used is entitled Tunnels by Montana Skies. The only change made to this work was cutting the track off at the two minute mark. No internal editing was done. It was used under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States (CC BY-SC-SA 3.0 US) license and that is attributed at the following link:
<div xmlns:cc=”http://creativecommons.org/ns#” xmlns:dct=”http://purl.org/dc/terms/” about=”http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Montana_Skies/Free_Downloads/Montana_Skies_-_Free_Downloads_-_09_Tunnels”><span property=”dct:title”>Tunnels</span> (<a rel=”cc:attributionURL” property=”cc:attributionName” href=”http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Montana_Skies/”>Montana Skies</a>) / <a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/”>CC BY-NC-SA 3.0</a></div>
Through this music, they can intuit a powerful language and a sentiment, even if it is different than the one I intended. This sentiment would be unique to them and they are able to feel this because they spent the time experiencing the work. It is the artifact that had to exist to trigger those emotions, physical sensations, and personal realizations that prompt them to consider that the act of engaging with literature of this nature, and perhaps all literature as well, is a full body experience. The materiality of the work serves to emphasize feeling, being in the moment with the work rather than understanding it based on facts, or one strict interpretation. This poem exists as a part of readers/viewers’ lives for only a moment, but this moment becomes a memory, a place in time that with the turn of a page or the click of a mouse, can be felt, even if it is not fully comprehended. These feelings are what stick with us, making them some of the most important things to consider when engaging with literature, be it graphic novels, flash poems, or literature as a whole.