Jon Paul Fiorentino

Mantenna C’est Moi


She Ra, Princess of Power (from Season One). Click on image to see video.

Mantenna was the name of a short story I was working on. As you have already guessed, it was about a balding man and his eerily powerful fauxhawk. Now, you can imagine my utter dismay to discover, upon entering “Mantenna” into a search engine, that Mantenna was already the name of a bumbling arch villain from “She-Ra, Princess of Power.” That dismay was quickly replaced with a feeling I can only describe as “less dismay” when I watched the clip and discovered that Mantenna, the She-Ra character, and I are kindred spirits.

In fact, this clip is almost a perfect duplication of a recent conversation I had with the editor of my last poetry book. When I informed him that I had only managed to save three of my capture bots and I had absolutely no captured Unicorns to show for it, he was totally pissed. I share Mantenna’s desire to please at any cost and also his adenoidal vocality; my editor has more than a passing resemblance to Hordak in terms of both physicality and editorial/evil-doing method. And he has often spoken fondly of his “fright zone.” Although, come to think of it, the relationship dynamic between Hordak and Mantenna is eerily similar to the relationship all editors of contemporary poetry have with their poets. Poets are the bumbling sidekicks / pseudo-villains of the cultural spectrum. And poetry editors, are, umm, the Hordaks.

Some ruminations: 1) He is called Mantenna because of his pop-out antenna eyes. Ironically, his boss, Hordak, seems to sport a sort of “mantenna” or “hairection” as I had envisioned the term — he has a spiky, mohawk-like fin on his head. 2) The trap door gag is executed with a complete disregard for artful timing. There is not a sufficient pause in order to make this classic gag work properly. The audience has precious little time to discover and revel in Mantenna’s fate. Buster Keaton and Robert Kroetsch are obviously aware of the importance of delay in the practice of their respective crafts. The esteemed writers of She-Ra have much to learn.

So in the spirit of cultural collectivism, be sure to check out my next book, “Mantenna, c’est moi,” to be published by Faber and Faber in Spring, 2010.

- Jon Paul Fiorentino

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Jon Paul Fiorentino is a writer and editor. His first novel is "Stripmalling" (ECW, 2009). His most recent book of poetry is "The Theory of the Loser Class" (Coach House Books, 2006). He is the author of the poetry book "Hello Serotonin" (Coach House Books, 2004) and the humour book "Asthmatica" (Insomniac Press, 2005). His most recent editorial projects are the anthologies "Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour" (DC Books, 2003) and "Post-Prairie" - a collaborative effort with Robert Kroetsch (Talonbooks, 2005). He lives in Montreal where he teaches writing at Concordia University and is the Editor of Matrix magazine.