Same Diff by Donato Mancini meets at the intersection of contemporary poetry, art, and current politics. Influenced by documentary cinema such as the films of Frederic Wiseman, Dada poets, montage techniques, and a range of modern poets, Same Diff explores the way social and economic histories become imprinted within language itself.
The political and poetic melancholy of our moment is revealed in a long poem on climate change, particularly the disappearance of snow, while the real-life effects of fiscal austerity and poverty are voiced in fragments conveying social neuroses that stem from amplified, unfair competition for basic necessities.
The nonce forms of Same Diff draw attention to their construction and history using monotype fonts, speaking to the surfaces of words and paper, and diverging from a sole focus on meaning.
Each poem introduces a dominant motif that develops through repetition and incremental variations, sourcing language from news-papers, online sources, and overheard conversations to create an emotive effect, as felt in music.
Donato Mancini makes visual and procedural poetry, bookworks and visual art. His books and chapbooks include: Snowline (2015), Buffet World (2011) Fact 'N' Value (2011), Hell Passport no.22 (2008), Æthel (2007), 58 Free Coffees (2006) and Ligatures (2005). Notable exhibitions of Mancini’s visual artworks have included exhibitions through Artspeak, Western Front, Gallery Atsui, Malaspina Printmaker's Society, and CSA. He performed with Gabriel Saloman in their noisepoetry/noisecomedy/noisemusic ensemble in the 2013 LIVE! Biennale of performance art, and as part of Concrete Scores at Open Space. Mancini's published critical writing includes work on the archive, time and memory in Anamnesia: Unforgetting (2011), and a discourse analysis of poetry reviews in You Must Work Harder to Write Poetry of Excellence (2012). His previous full-length book, Loitersack (2014), is a labyrinthine commonplace book where critical, theoretical and paraliterary tendencies intersect in the forms of poetry, poetics, theory, theory theatre, laugh particles and many many questions. He holds a doctorate in English from the University of British Columbia.
“I didn’t know why it was called Same Diff instead of More Or Less I thought to myself while drinking a pint during Wednesday happy hour at the Three Brits (I’ve no shame) when like a lightning bolt from heaven I got it! and now I cannot remember. Probably because of the pints.”
—Todd Nickel, readrunwrite.com
“Structurally rigorous … Same Diff takes poetry to the art gallery and then there’s an explosion. … Mancini’s lists, with their insistent repetition and procedural tenacity are monumental, glacially shifting edifices that deface empire’s pristine walls with their own babble. Mancini [re]says the same things over and over, collects linguistic violence and travesties under the heading ‘same diff,’ contending that there is no essential difference between them; that taken together they are the testimony to patterns of physical and ideological violence. Same diff? Mancini doesn’t think so. Neutrality is not an option.”
—Contemporary Verse 2 (CV2)
“Lines are only the beginning of those objects drawn together in this book of splices and merges, convergences and recourses, findings and collectings, smatterings and casual smotherings. … A book of 35 works that stands on top of itself, looking down upon itself, belly bulging, self-awareness, reconstructivism, both respectful of these realities and respectful of the reader. In fact, have I read such a polite and inviting work in all the other realms and moments of my life? … Same Diff is all about probability. It is the regurgitation in postmodern complacency. It is mirroring, reflective, and dangerous. The poems here are, as mentioned, subtle. And yet they are jumbled. And yet they maintain agency. They demonstrate the craft of work that can reach heights without reliance upon spotlight, or even stage. As works to be performed, I found myself recording myself reading these poems by myself, alone in a room that can be called a home, watching the network expand, watching the portal emerge. … Getting to the end of Same Diff is not difficult, and making sense of it is not either. … ”