you aren’t going to like what i have to say

Donato Mancini

copyright ©2017 by Donato Mancini

before i start i want to say you shouldn’t blame yourself
there’s no point in beating around the bush
there’s something we need to talk about
this is the most difficult thing i’ve ever had to tell anyone
the longer i wait the harder it’s going to be
it’s best if we face this right now
what i’m about to tell you won’t be easy to hear
i know this will hurt but it has to be said
i don’t like being the bearer of bad news
please sit down, this could come as a shock
you knew this was coming, right?
i hope this won’t be a complete surprise
hate to break it to you
please don’t kill the messenger
i have some really bad news
how do i even say this
this is really really hard for me
there are no words for what i have to tell you
i can’t go on lying anymore
you aren’t going to like what i have to say

Notes on the Poem

Deceptively simple on the page, Donato Mancini's poem "you aren’t going to like what i have to say" from his 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Same Diff takes on new meanings as you spend more time with it. If you read it aloud ... even more so. (Go ahead, try it!) And if you have the opportunity to have the poem read to you - perhaps by the poet himself - even more new contexts, qualities and meanings might surface. In his contemplation of poetics and performance in Jacket2 in 2013, David Buuck pauses to consider:
"... the interplay between page and performance can inform each other ... where the performance of the poem moves well beyond the treatment of the poem as a static object awaiting vocalization to a thinking-writing-performing through/with the poem (and, importantly, the social contexts of its performance) as a way to activate manifold potentialities in the work, such that each reading is both an interpretation as well as a further investigation into how the poem ‘means’[1]."
1 cf for example, Close Listening, ed Charles Bernstein & Additional Apparitions: Poetry, Performance, & Site-Specificity, eds David Kennedy & Keith Tuma, as well as Steve Evans' commentaries here on Jacket2.
However deeply (or not) you want to go into what performing a poem does for that poem's meaning and resonances, there is no denying that poetry readings enrich, entertain and add new dimensions. How fortunate we were in 2018 to have Mancini read the poem to a rapt and appreciative audience listening in Toronto's Koerner Hall and on our livestream, and how wonderful that we can still enjoy that performance today: Whether you took in his reading then or are experiencing it now for the first time, how do you find this presentation works with and enhances the words you see on the page / screen? Annually, the shortlist readings have been an important part of the celebration of the Griffin Poetry Prize. The live events have been special and memorable occasions, and we've archived the livestreams and selected individual readings so poetry lovers can revisit and replay them, extending the unique glow of those presentations. While the singular challenges of 2020 meant curtailing the shortlist readings, we still captured some special audio presentations with the gracious and resourceful efforts of the 2020 shortlisted poets, embellished with video detailing that sets off the words beautifully, if we do say so ourselves. Here is Kaie Kellough's reading from Magnetic Equator: and the rest of the 2020 readings are here for your enjoyment. As always, we want poetry lovers to relish the poetry on the page and derive additional and new perspectives from it in performance.

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