I varied these two genres as much as I could to try to showcase a range of voices and styles. The voice that I evoked in my blog posts aligned most with standard English. I teetered along the line of a formal and casual tone—taking into account that the one author might change slightly depending on the topic and the day. However, it mostly remained in a middle register. Comparing the blog posts, prose, to poetry seem like comparing cakes to cars. In my poetry, I tried to vary my form within my “comfort zone”– or what could be my style. With this established, it was decided that one page would be about 12 lines of poetry and one blog post (300 words) would also equal one page. My goal was to space out the poetry so I would have one poem be the equivalent to one page; however, the last two poems I completed were double that size, accounting for two pages each. I wanted to experiment with a poem in parts (Ways to Pray) and I felt that I needed extra space to emphasize each section. Additionally, due to the length of “Ways to Pray” and “Talking to the Inmates at Phillips State Prison about Marietta” I have chosen not to include accompanying sound clips or a gallery at the end. I felt that these poems were strong on their own and I did not want any additional content to undercut or take away from the poetry.
The poetry I write is surreal, but this is contrasted with a title that, although might not be directly related to the content, “click” the poem into focus and help the reader have footing within the world that was created. The poems are loosely based around a horror theme, with most of them pertaining to ghosts, hauntings, the Old South, or the Marietta Square. Each poem was an attempt to try to find a different avenue of talking about an unsettling and uneasy topic—the supernatural. With an emphasis on sound, I placed audio files that I recorded over the past few months sporadically with various poems to play alongside them. These noises were, in context, pretty normal, but out of context, added another textural and sensory layer to the poetry. Additionally, each poem has an audio file of me reading the poem in a slow, monotone voice. Not only does the voice add to the feel of the poem, but it is possible that I stop on the line breaks and emphasize different words than a reader would; therefore, my reading provides a different experience and perspective on the poem for the reader. I attempted to make this process as interactive as possible so it would seamlessly correspond with the medium (internet-based). The gallery of pictures displayed at the end of each poem is meant to contribute to a “DIY” feeling that someone who is seeking out ghosts or other supernatural phenomena would produce in their research. I took these photos on various nights and paired them with corresponding poems that have a similar theme or aesthetic. For example, in the poem “Dropping my Grandmother’s Faberge Egg”, I put a picture of a bell that was taken at night with flash. The coloring, the age of the bell, and the shape of the bell correspond with the theme and visuals in the poem. When “brass” is mentioned in the poem, the bell’s brass image is a representation of the heritage of the Marietta Square, the “Old South”, and antiques in general.
One of my main goals with the poetry was to play around with various forms. For example, “Talking to the Inmates at Phillips State Prison about Marietta”, is written as a prose-poem, a from that is more casual and conversational. I made this decision so that both the form and content of the poem would be differentiated from the other poems to make it seem as though it is it’s own contained world—much like prison. I felt that this was an important poem to include because I wanted to have a strong emphasis on how Marietta has changed over the years and what these changes mean to certain groups of people. I am a tutor at Phillips State Prison and inmates always ask me about how the city (and metro-Atlanta area) is growing and changing. This change creates a perfect tension to talk about the clash of gentrification, the uncomfortable truths of progress, and what is considered the “New South.”
Some of the major themes that run through my poems are sweet images like candy clashed with grotesque images like fingernails. This juxtaposition helps to fuse tension into the poems so that even if the reader is unfamiliar with the Marietta Square, they are still able to feel the emotion that is trying to be conveyed. In “Sweet Treats—August 2016”, The speaker is young, innocent, and hopeful. This is shown through the usage of images such as saltwater taffy and cotton balls. In contrast, “Bar Hop—Marietta” has harsh sounding words like “spiked seltzer” and “scattered spit.” These words come across as harsh because of the hard “s” sound and the imagery of sharp objects.
I tried to mimic this detail in the blog posts. The voice that was being evoked and portrayed was that of an over-zealous, academic who wants to share their passion for ghosts. I created a character who was a sceptic, as shown in “The Paranormal Effect—Marietta Square” with phrases like “it is possible” and the sentence “I have been studying the children of the square.” This is a creepy and bold claim which tells the reader exactly who the speaker is—someone who is dedicated to this topic. I wanted to fluctuate between a casual and a more formal tone with these to ensure I was adhering to standard English. This was accomplished by moving back and forth in tone with the blog posts– something that someone writing different posts at different times would do. I chose this tactic because blogs are a direct representation of what the author is feeling in the moment rather than a polished final draft. In “Magnolia House—Analyzing My Ghost Journey”, the speaker is taking a more casual tone and approach because the topic of the post is more personal. This casual attitude can also be seen with the usage of “PS” at the end of a post rather than a formal statement. This could also convey more comfortability with the progression of each blog post as the speaker is moving through (and learning) the medium of online blogging.
Towards the middle of the blog posts, there is a clear clash of formal language with a more prominent informal tone weaved throughout. For example, “A Discussion on Age and Reaction to the Paranormal” shows a mixture of these two tones that leads into an inevitable transition between formal to informal language. Note that this is obvious when reading the blog posts from top to bottom on the menu bar, but not obvious if the reader is skipping around posts. The reader does not have to read the blogs in the posting order to understand the content, but to show an evolution of tone through time, reading the posts from top to bottom is helpful. An informal tone can be seen with the usage of parentheses, rhetorical questions (especially questions that start with the word “hopefully”), and the usage of words like “we”. The more formal tone can be seen with the usage of the words “possess” and “manifest”. Therefore, each blog post has a slight evolution of tone to help aid in the effectiveness of the varying sentence lengths. I employed commas and parentheses to add variety to the sentences and to help (in some cases) add informal elements to the prose. For example, some of the shorter statements in each blog post are used not only to signal (and act as) a change in rhythm, but also a change in tone. This can be seen in “Why Humans are Afraid of Ghosts” with the sentence “Humans like their comforts.” Although the tone varies, the dedication and passion that the speaker is conveying is evident throughout the blog posts.
Although I was not able to dissect and talk about all of the posts and poems, I hope the rhetorical decisions and intentions are clear throughout the works. I enjoyed the freedom to explore this topic in two different forms– with two different voices– for two different audiences. Each post and poem can be read individually, or in the tab from top to bottom. I utilized the technology that came along with this website to make visual choices to enhance the reading and viewing experience. I am incredibly thankful for the freedom I had to make this project.