Breathing/Secret of Roe

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2002
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This two-part poem examines two sides of an emotional event in the speaker’s life. The first part, “Breathing” shows sadness, even depression, perhaps over the presence and absence of a woman, shown partly in the image standing by the door on the right side of the image. A mouseover triggers a whispery spoken soundtrack, stabilizes the softly vibrating lines so they become readable, and switches from one part of the poem to the other.

If you raise the volume on your speakers to make out the whispering voice in “Breathing,” then “Secret of Roe” is going to come as a shock with its loud music and voice. This is an angry side to the poem, as the image of two men fighting on the ground in front of the same woman in “Breathing” comes to the foreground. (Note that the images are both edited from the same photograph.) Each stanza in the poem is presented as a line scheduled to display in a rapid sequence, paused by a mouseover. The voice delivers the lines in about 1 1/2 minutes, and its pauses breathe meaning into the lines even as the sequenced text reminds us that “I am not really breathing.”

(Source: Leonardo Flores)

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Helene Helgeland