October 05, 2008

"Anarcho-Flarf Vandalism"?

I'm tickled to be in the same anthology as Gerard Manley Hopkins, Anna Akhmatova, Monica de la Torre, Joyelle McSweeney, and 3159 others. Sharanya is confused; Ron Silliman is livid.

Here is how it started: On a mailing list, I read that Issue 1, just out, has new poems by among others Monica Mody. I did not remember submitting any poems to them. Was this an old poem? Was this an unauthorised poem? I opened the issue pdf and reached page 1314 and jumped. I did not remember writing the poem (yeah, Ron). I gulped. Had my homonym taken to writing poetry? I breathed deeply and wondered wildly if I should write to her and remind her of our understanding (for she must have googled her name as well, yes? - and found me - and come to the same undiscussed mutual understanding). She writes children's books. I write poetry.

I googled "monica mody ~poetry" to appraise the extent of the damage (to territory). And stumbled on Steve McLaughlin and Jim Carpenter's project, Silliman who is livid and Sharanya who is confused. And others who are adamant that they can write better poetry than attributed to them by the "editors".

Is the "algorithmically generated content" in Issue 1 "anarcho-flarf vandalism"? I guess it is but anarcho-flarf vandalism is just fine by me and, yes, in our postmodernism-is-dead world, it has a place. The project is funny, and spunky, and brilliant, and there's not a little overreaction going on among poets who are het up about it.

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