Friday, June 09, 2006

I noticed this working flarf post at Stan Apps' blog after I wrote my ruminations below. as a general rule you can say he's working the lucid side of the street (i.e. over there, but that don't mean I can't wave. I have't yet read the Standard Shaeffer fuss a bit earlier on his blog (not been able to read blogs heartily lately) but it looks like fun. anyhoo.
there's been some thoughtful responses to flarf and its methods in the world out there, to go with the lameass monkey muddle from others. well, some inarticulateness ought to speak up too! so I snatch the opportunity. I've written maybe 100 poems within flarfian parametres. by flarfian I mean using various methods like Google searches to fashion texts that satisfy--to my mind at least--a sculptural sense of poetry. such processes are less linear than my usual close my eyes and type fast method of writing. flarf can be quite linear and narrative but the method of its production isn't (in my experience). I love taking a pile of words and doing something with it. the use of spellchecker, Babelfish and find and replace, along with the Googling, produces the ore, which then is refined. to me, Googling resembles beachcombing, where whatever I use as for the search is... oh wait, I'm slipping my metaphor, because I was about to say my search term was the hook. or trawl. I'm just looking for shiny things that catch my attention. and having caught it, I refine them. all righty. the fascinating thing is to be amidst all that expression. whether it is Britney or Rumsfeld, things are being talked about online. whatever my usage of this material, I am aware of the humanity in the words. the accusation that flarfists are making fun of the inarticulate just doesn't jibe with the sensation I get as I do searches. rather than mocking these articulations, I take them very seriously. I mean, how could one not? there's so much energy to these words. that's why they are of interest! in new context, these articulations meld into a strange new energy. the jarring dissonances are, indeed, musical in nature. a reader must remember that the context is new. the grossness and offense that one might perceive in some of the voicings must be understood within the poem's full context, not the inferred one of the source text. remembering, tra la, that poems are machines: you gotta have all the parts in place for it to work proper like. assertions of racism have been made against some flarf, Mike Magee's Asian Guys poem, for instance. it is fair to make the question. that discomfort is real. a power of flarf exists in the very witness of these offenses. I'm not taking the writer off the hook here. the reader's 1st duty is to determine if this poem is of interest. I've seen it in the twiddle that I've done, where the gathered weirdneses don't coalesce. a leering sort of interest might take over then. that's a failure in my book. or not in my book. the poem didn't survive the refining process... I don't know if that metaphor holds either but I'll pretend that it does. just as when I write, zippy zip, my usual way, and see the result as failed. what did I miss? where did I go wrong? flarf faces the same problems. balance, delicacy, degree. discomfort and impropriety have been mentioned as positions in flarf. I think flarf qua flarf (gotta love that qua) lives in the openness of possibility. but it's not just potty mouth, I don't see it so. in my own attempts, I've leaned more on the disjunctive oddities, cheek by jowl. alas nor am I as funny as many others. I don't think I can use the n-word and iothers such, I have my limits. I always want the possibility that any word or topic can be used in my work but I would shy away from some. I think some criticism of Mike's poem derives from a sense that he can't come at it from that direction. you fill in what 'it' and 'direction' mean in that sentence. I can only say, does the poem in its fullness say what you think. take a holistic view, maybe? really, poems don't say, they be. the misapplied familiarities and the disjunctions are troubling and difficult, and of course the blatant grossness that isn't softened at all. the assumption is that there's something worth fighting for, in all that midst. the procedures, they swtch the process around for me. rather than linear go, I'm forced to slow way down, hear each word in its peculiar situation. in my usual mode, I go back to see what I've down. when I go flarfy, I watch as the poem takes shape. I dunno how many of those 100 flarfisms that I've made that I would stand by. all of them in the sense of trying to learn something, but as pomes to stick in books with my name attached: it's a handful. working flarfily has been invigourating for me. I'm amazed how the poem writes itself. something unexpected turns up, changes what the poems doing, right before my eyes. it thrills to see that. I think attempting to write flarf has helped me to read it. hint hint. you know, see what's under the hood. nyway, these be some thoughts that have percolated up recently.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Jack Kimball and Christina Strong at the Demolicious Series. the Demolicious Series is definitely a bright spot in the Boston area poetry scene. it's comfortable, doesn't have the inner sanctum ambience that pervades so much around here. I decided to read at the open mic but that proved slightly challenging, insofar as I didn't want to take too much time, but my work tends to stretch out. and I write often in series. saturday I'd written 4 poems in a series that perhaps will go on, and liked what I wrote. I read this, the 1st piece, kinda long. it's still new so I didn't have the best reading bead on it. but enough about me. James Cook read 2 nice, thoughtful poems, and 2 others whose names I haven't managed to place in long term memory yet (both read at the Fitterman/Sloman reading), read several works that were quite good. then Jack read, entirely from a lengthy manuscript. the ms still hopes to find a publisher. why wouldn't it, frankly? the pieces were largely short, sketchy in a way. Jack employs a disjointedness (assuming disjointedness is something that can be employed) that is more like an abbreviation. as in gist. tone is delicately asserted. hearing Jack read probably is a good entrance to his work, so that you can catch hold of the tonal shifts. his poetry is one of voices, of varied sources. whether or not these sources are Googled, or if they are in his head, I don't know and definitely don't care. the shifts are precise and human. emotion bumps against emotion thru the work. I did not take notes and lack a useful memory, so I cannot quote. but I can say there were quite a few laughs, quite a few brilliant lines jumping out. consensus says that Jack read too long. okay, he did, except that it made sense, reading from a single work as he did. he skipped some poems, and all the prose parts of the manuscript, which Jack says are brilliant. what I heard held together, which is why I forgive his reading so much. Christina showed 2 movies that she made. both were powerful political assaults. in the 1st, we see clips from an early Our Gang, with the kids bracing for a play war, juxtaposed with Christina reading (on the soundrack) plus music. then a collage of CNN type talking heads and I know I'm not presenting the experience well. it was rivetting and thougthful. the 2nd film featured a lot of disturbing war clips, people dying very completely, with a terrible desensitived aura over all. and this coupled with those always hard to believe Bushisms that bubble from the fount with creepy ease. I like Christina's political thunder. it situates quite naturally in her work. the political voice of LANGUAGE poetry has often sounded like poli sci to me. to me, any fierceness has to be central and visceral, not brainy decoration. fire and thought together is what I saw in Christina's movies. so it was fun, good to have...