Paperwounds by Andy Campbell

Paperwounds Picture

Adam Campbell’s “Paperwounds” takes its readers to a dark place; to a mind of suicidal thoughts and depression. The reader is presented with a crumpled up suicide note.  We can click on certain words which are highlighted and pulse red.  There is also a sound effect, a sort of technological beep which goes off whenever the mouse hovers over the highlighted words.  When the reader clicks on the set of highlighted words, a stanza is brought up.  Because none of the stanzas seem to be connected or even rely on each other, the reader is left with a discombobulated tone.  It also left me personally disconnected from the narrator because I wasn’t able to easily relate, given its distant tone.  The fact that the pieces are so disconnected from each other are, I think, a commentary on how it may feel to be depressed or even suicidal. There is a lack of connection from other people, or even from self, and that may be what this poem is trying to point out. It’s also important to note that there is a sort of dark and ominous music that plays in the background for the entire time. This further adds to the distant tone of the verses.  The reader is also able to zoom in and out, and rotate the paper. However, this only alters the perspective of which the poem is read, and doesn’t affect the poem itself. Throughout the poem, there is a lot of language concerning different body parts, ranging from sore lips, guts, paper skin, black hair, etc.  Also, as each verse pops up after being clicked, it is usually set to a backdrop of crumpled paper, but there are also broken CDs, a floppy disk, a ticket, and a notebook. One thing that leaves me puzzled is that each verse seems to have a sort of title. However, I wasn’t able to see how the title correlated to the verse itself.  In some cases, the verses just seemed to be a collection of melodramatic words that didn’t quite make sense.  If anyone can figure this out, that would be very helpful.  I’ve also chosen to see this work as one poem made up of a collection of stanzas. But I wonder if it could also be viewed as a suicide note being a collection of short poems (instead of them being stanzas).  I think this might be another interesting way of viewing this work.

  5 comments for “Paperwounds by Andy Campbell

  1. karmakona
    January 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    The titles for each verse are not random, my guess is that they were carefully thought through. My reason for thinking this is that the verses and titles (and the work as a whole) are not lengthy, so because there are so few words, each word is weighed down with more to contemplate.
    I think discomfort may have been the goal, but not necessarily that disconnect you felt. The “holes” in the big picture are where we are meant to poke, prod, and study. The fact that the piece of paper is crumpled shows us this because we can only read a few words from different sentences and different lines. Or the different options to manipulate the crumpled paper, like flipping it, rotating it, or turning off the visibility so that you cannot see it at all. I think it is the removal of narrative that we should discuss.

  2. mstough
    January 27, 2014 at 9:46 am

    It is a difficult and frustrating piece to work with and I understand your frustration with grasping the reading out of it when the narrator seems very distant and the message of the work seems far off. However, I’m not entirely sure if this is about a suicidal person that you are embodying as much as it may be that you’re embodying a friend or parent trying to understand someone who has committed suicide. Based on the way I had to zoom in and move the images around, it gave a sense that the information and ideas being sought were hard to find. Crumpled paper and other odds and ends give it the feeling that we’re digging through a trash can in someone’s bedroom or the junk drawer in their bedside table. Also, the sound when you hover over a word is one that indicates a heartbeat as if finding this shred of the person and the seemingly nonsensical words that follow is a sign of hope that we might finally understand this person and why they felt suicidal.

  3. nbemis
    January 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    I was under the impression that the speaker of the piece felt the way they felt because their significant other, a woman, left them. I look at the objects upon which the verses are written(a broken mix CD, an old movie ticket, etc.) and can’t help but think they’re the remains of the relationship. Also, the words “she caught fire” repeat again and again throughout the verses. I take this to mean that the speaker’s significant other disappeared, as in a plume of smoke, never to be seen again. I really liked how the objects gave a bit of context to what would have otherwise been very disjointed verse.

    • mstough
      January 27, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      What do you make of the heart monitor sound effects then? I have trouble seeing how they would suggest it’s about a relationship ending abruptly rather than a loved one’s life ending abruptly by suicide. But I do think the objects that the verses are written on do seem very indicative of tokens one would keep from a relationship.

  4. Dylan Tibert
    January 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I think the limited availability of the text in this suicide note and the particular presentation of what we can see, accomplish multiple things here, which may or may not have been the intention of the author but still resonate with this disorienting theme of suicide. The ambiguity and absence of a framing context allows for a multitude of interpretations, which arguably appeals to not only those who have attempted suicide and those impacted by the suicide of loved ones, but the vast numbers of people who experience suicidal thoughts on a regular basis only to discard them. The crumpled note could lend itself to the interpretation that this is a suicide note that was thrown away after the author lost conviction and discarded their respective convictions. It confronts suicide as an all-pervasive issue, and the reason why it remains so resilient in the modern world- the feeling of hopelessness and the longing for an escape. The disorienting presentation of the poem’s consistently dark texts, including both the words we can see on the crumpled note and the poems they link to, resonate with the conflicting, confusing, often counter-cultural desire to end it all and keep the context of the poem open enough that it does not alienate the huge selection of people who struggle with suicide, no matter how tangential or far from personal that connection may be.

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