from Where do you feel?

Donato Mancini

copyright ©2017 by Donato Mancini

in my eyes



in my face



in my voice



in my neck



in my throat



in my shoulders



in my heart



in my lungs



in my whole bloody body



in my social organs in general



in everywhere, flushing, sweating, pounding heart



in my collarbone and neck area



in my hands, tingling and prickling sensations



in my left shoulder blade, aches and pounds



in my stomach, and my back is paining too



in my arms, my arms feel big and heavy



Notes on the Poem

The opening half of "Where do you feel?" by Donato Mancini is simple but striking, in several respects. How does this selection from Mancini's 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted Same Diff achieve such a profound effect? The spare phrases, all tersely answering the title question, are demarcated by generous line spacing, which creates surprising heft, weight, impact, almost simulates strained breath between words. The way the words are arranged and cascade down the page confirms, as the Griffin Poetry Prize judges remarked on how Mancini's "strong design impulse" caused the words in another poem in this collection to "snow down the pages". Towards end of this segment, the answers or observations start to become more specific, more alarmed, peevish and verging on complaint, building tension. The forceful momentum of each line and chunk of space after each line has a perverse energy, even as it cumulatively and ironically suggests failing strength. Further on in the poem (with you can read in The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology 2018 or Same Diff), feelings are described in even more detail. The increasing density of words causes the sense of urgency and anxiety to mount further, as the lines wrap and space between each exposition compresses. The judges celebrate in their citation Mancini's words' presence and power on the page, how, among other accomplishments "he offers a way to recover a self, not through self-assertion but by attending to the voices and needs of others." Persuasively, almost unnervingly, this poem has that very influence on the reader.

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