Girl Without Arms


Girl Without Arms by Brandon Shimoda

Girl Without Arms
by Brandon Shimoda
Black Ocean, 2011
96 pages / $14.95  Buy from Black Ocean or SPD






The title may be referencing a Grimm’s Fairytale called The Girl Without Hands. It could also just be about a girl without arms. I don’t know. It doesn’t seem integral to enjoying the work or attempting to understand it. The work is a trip, an experience more than a message, a system that works by itself. I’m going to quote a lot and talk a little.


Shimoda interrupts himself. The syntax is complicated in GWA. It’s like the syntax itself is surreal.

“Boats stick to our elbows
The Cabin goes up
In rhubarb. Rhubarb
Washes over-”

The many voices sometimes sound mid-sentence, mid-conversation, perhaps overheard. The words are mashed up and mixed together with impossible situations and small haiku moments.

“Mute water and moss and tight water and rocks”

Sometimes The Girl Without Arms feels like a poetry devoid of people. Like it sprung from the earth elementally, without being crafted by anyone or like it’s what’s left after all the people are gone. Sometimes it feels austere and lonely. There is a kind of transcendence in the small, the slightly off diction, the twisted cadences and syntax.

“The boats
Do not move.
There are no people
Like it.”

In some sections it’s as if the people that might exist are so minimal as to be hard to notice. The little ecologies of Shimoda’s short unpredictable stanzas are aesthetically charged and abstract; they are essential tiny interrelated linguistic artifacts that seem to stand independent of time or context. Shimoda’s words tend to connote more than denote.


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December 7th, 2012 / 6:03 pm