January 10, 2006
Hey! You've Got Poetry in My Spam!

CPR examines "post-language poets," a bad description (must everything be 'post'? How '90s) for an interesting phenomenon--specifically, the nature of some modern poetry that you could literally re-arrange for yourself and make a different, perhaps better poem.

It brings to mind interesting questions of our changing notions of authorship and what it means to create. As an English major I was always taught to respect the work of "The Poet," whoever that might be, because as an author they had some kind of authority. The article notes that "the author-defined connection may already belong to another time...Now the text is up for grabs....If you want it to be about the time you had a vertigo attack, go for it. ...Meanwhile, we linear folk come limping along behind, using the handrail, feeling gingerly ahead."

If we accept this premise (and I'm not sure we always do), what does it do to the status of "The Poet" once everyone is the poet? If authors lose their authority, do eventually they stop writing poetry? If we can all cut and paste our own, do we stop reading poetry? Or are we "empowered" to create a new genre, a poetic version of the musical mash-up? I wonder.

Perhaps the most extreme end of the spectrum is the robot-generated spam we are all so used to seeing these days. For academic purposes, I will endeavor to make a poem-like object out of some of the random lines sent to me today (punctuation, line breaks mine):

I timely of entertain, a clattered! the confined is woodshed!
She gesture was obviously of fearing it neither parasites
Me jumbled cannery is scheme of establish a people
A border, the groaning, agitating!
it chuck she misfortune

You casting of either the scrap and reproachful or shewed
Not spark, you mortally and accents me
butter daylight?

If angered we frost of gods? a satisfaction is tremor
An patriarch me jazz, you gushed. she nail goldenhaired.
Have intimate bathrobe of stuff it warn, was littleknown

And folly savagely is neck?
of pious, and feverishly.

Hmm. Actually, it reminds me of those times the cat has sat on E.'s keyboard and sent random chat texts. But poetry in my spam isn't the worst thing I've seen today. Still, I hope the day when we say "you've got spam in my poetry" is still far off.

More links:
Bookslut takes on two of the poets mentioned in the article.
Lots of poetry in the online lit magazine Unpleasant Event Schedule.

Posted at January 10, 2006 06:52 PM