Like the advice given by the speaker’s father, this kinetic and aural poem is all about “presentation and perfect arrangement.” It is about knowing where to cut visual and aural language, images and sound clips, arranging them on the poem’s space to make an impression. Yet while the speaker seems to be learning what her father has to say, one can sense the tension in her as she conforms to a vision of how one presents oneself and in what contexts. The masculinity of the images juxtaposed with the words “a firm handshake, after church” contrast with the more feminine figure we see leaning by the stove or hunched in silhouette. Listen to this poem and you’ll realize that it hovers in that space between tradition and innovation, expressive orality and through new media, conformity and rebellion, and different types of distance and proximity.
Featured in Poems That GO.