“Puddle” and “Paddle” by Neil Hennesy

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“Puddle” by Neil Hennessy

This kinetic concrete poem, along with its companion piece “Paddle” (below), is a minimalist statement of how meaningful the movement of words can be. Using three words with simple animation, Hennessy is able to build a narrative of the formation of a puddle and what happens after. The timing and spacing of the downward flow of language in this poem sets up a variation in the final part of the poem, as we get a little bit of upwards movement, combined with an insight on the shared etymology (or orthography) of the first and final words in the poem.

“Paddle” by Neil Hennessy

“Paddle” builds upon the previous poem but emphasizing the phonic dimension of language both with the words and the animation. This poem consists of five words, only four of which we can see. The initial word establishes the setting, the second word provides a visual stream of a letter that causes and forms a new onomatopoeic word, the third word transforms the word into something else entirely but its animation focuses the frame of reference. The final word is the payoff as Hennessy creates a disconnect between the spelled word and its animation. It is by reading it aloud that we realize that the animation is referencing a homophone— the fifth word in the sequence, which is both visible, invisible, and audible.

Truly “verbivocovisual.”