Danielle Pafunda and the Manhater

ManHaterCoverA Mommy V, Illness, Ex-Dog/Ex-Lover triptych, Danielle Pafunda’s Manhater is more of the consumptive tense man (h)eater. A Plath-descendant, Pafunda’s speakers’ polemic attitudes build a cage around opponents’ gazes. Immediately, with a title like Manhater we assume the opponent is men, but the reality is much larger, and far more complicated, than man—the reality is a patriarchical system that betrays women and those with female identities. It’s a hyper-allergic society to female bodies and pain. It is the female body pregnant with child, or feeling, conflated with the ultimate consumption metaphor of our capitalist economics, love affairs, and medical system.  One of the strengths of Pafunda’s writing is her constant attention to simultaneous meanings. Enacting the pun or the phrasal to her advantages, she allows meaning to fulfill the sentence and take up as much brain space as possible. Like all poetry collections, Pafunda’s Manhater is about re-appropriating language, and in this collection, the type of language most Americans don’t even want to think about. With a title like Manhater and the sardonic tone of the poetry, I imagine it would be easy for the general hater to use that oh, so common and reductive phrase, “see, all feminists just hate men.” Per usual, these anti-feminist comments take language and suggestion out of context and ignore the intrinsic subtleties of clichés. Within Manhater we get the slight sonic echo of mad hatter, with the implication of factory produced sickness, or more generally, the alternative world at the bottom of the rabbit hole. We also have the active present tense, situating us immediately in the constant happenings-now. We know this book deals with gender, placing “man” 1st and center. So the questions are, how will this book deal with gender? And who is actually doing the hating? And with hate, will we be given the opposite love? ….

To read the entire post, including a review of Danielle’s essay “Meat Life” in Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetics of Disability anthology, visit SoToSpeakJournal.org


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