Sunday, June 9, 2013

Analysis of "The Objectified Mermaid" by Matthea Harvey

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Objectified Mermaid" by Matthea Harvey
Originally read: February 25, 2013
More information about the Poet:   Matthea Harvey



Have you seen a spork before?  Nonetheless, in a poem?  Yeah, that's a weird way to start this one.  However, when I was reading this the first time, I drew a spork on the page.  I'm not the most versed in prose poetry, so at first I felt something was missing in my initial analysis.

Furthermore, this poem, I think, is the first poem where there is poet comments below.  I tried my best not to look at it, but then read them.  Something about Las Vegas and a still.

Anyway, I'd like to actually start with the last line, "A downward spiral means the opposite up here." is the core of the poem -- not only from an "emotional" standpoint in which the mermaid feels and thinks about -- rather how the lines operate.

For example, the title itself seems self-explanatory, "The Objectified Mermaid."  Well not really.  There's the part of my mind thinking "the" objectified mermaid (or rather the directly objectified mermaid) is objectified how -- as a woman, as a mermaid, as a symbol of a mermaid -- or maybe all three.  The opening title, I feel sets me up to figure how language works where "a downward spiral means the opposite."  Note, I'm not talking about lL=A=N=G=U=A=G=E  poetry where I'm looking for how language undercuts inent (I think this is the main premise behind L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry with my 2 week (equivalent) study of it), rather how the usage single words  ambiguously create different ways of interpreting the line, but not so much that the meaning of a poem changes, but rather adds to the meaning like layers (talking about women as a whole or individual etc.) kind of how the base definition is the curve of a spork and the different interpretations are the prongs of the fork.

Yeah, this is not making sense really fast.

Here's the big thing -- is the mermaid a real mermaid (the poem doesn't break the suspension of disbelief for me)?  Is the mermaid a representation of something else?  Is the mermaid just a woman who wears a suit?  Why am I harping on this?  Well, I find it interesting that the poem never defines the woman (as though not to objectify her as a representation of something) and sticks with a slightly quirky, funny narrative.

Example, "It's gonna be hell getting all that grease of her scales tonight." (emphasis added)

In any case, (or all my interpretations of who the character is), the woman takes in the objectification all on her in sense -- it's her tail, her scales (not a costume in a sense, or a representation) it's a part of her.  However, in my mind, I can't accept that it's all of her.  In multiple ways (no she is a mermaid, wait nos he's a representation, no she's a woman) Which is kind of weird.

This line expands the interpretations, "she imagines her grandmother inspired when she first risked coming ashore"  So there's the immigrant tale, but the pun of ashore doesn't break my suspension disbelief.  I think of the speaker as a mermaid still.

So what does this mean by the end of her photography session -- "she" is being photographed -- the woman, the mermaid, the object, the representation, but in an inelegant and humorous way (not so serious).

Yeah, that extra day of thinking about it didn't help.

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