Seething since 2000*
Issue 1, edited by Stephen McLaughlin and Jim Carpenter purports to be a 3,785 page anthology of new poetry, published in PDF format under the for godot imprint. The front cover of the anthology lists, in miniature print, the names of all contributors. These names have also been posted on Ron Silliman’s blog, so I won’t bother reposting the whole list here. Suffice to say, even a cursory inspection of the list immediately begins to raise eyebrows, for several reasons.
Firstly, the inclusion of new poems by names like ‘Hadewijch of Antwerp’ and ‘Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle’ alongside William Shakespeare, Frank O’Hara and Bertolt Brecht suggests there’s a strong element of piss-take involved here.
Secondly, the inclusion of poets who have written in or around a specific kind of experimental poetics (in this case, internet-based search poetry, or Flarf poetry or whatever) suggests that the satire is aimed at a particular audience, namely: those very same poets.
Therefore, in the Australian context, we find the names of John Tranter and Laurie Duggan but not John Kinsella, Robert Adamson or Les Murray. Pam Brown appears, naturally, right before Alexander Pope. Jill Jones, Cassie Lewis and Chris Mansell also make the ‘list’. Mansell, for one, has since reacted strongly against the hoax, via comments on the official anthology ‘page’.
Even closer to (my) home, the inclusion of US poets like Andrew Zawacki and Adam Fieled alongside their Australian generational counterparts like Michael Farrell, Derek Motion and Ivy Alvarez seems to me suggesting even further that groupings such as these, which can be made, form part of a vast, amorphous network.
These poets are interconnected by their use of IT not merely in order to communicate but also to incorporate network potential into their own writing practices, and therefore engaging in Flarf or computer-generated poetry or spam poems or whatever.
I guess my own inclusion here, if I am to engage in some abstract navel-gazing, is due to my having edited a collection of search poems for Cordite; or having used search poetry to stimulate students of creative writing; or having written and published a number of search poems myself.
Whatever the genesis of the list (a detail I hope we hear about soon), the crucial question is the method of these poems’ composition, for as Silliman notes:
No, the quirkiest thing about Issue 1 is going to be that, if it includes your name – and, hey, it probably does – you have no memory of having written that text, nor of submitting it to Issue 1. Or, as Ed Baker put it so elegantly in the comments stream to For Godot,
I DIDN’T FUCKING WRITE THIS GARBAGE!
As for my own poem, well, here it is. Read it and weep, future generations …
A kind of person After you will be uneasy, like a slow gaze Sinking in a promotion, sea will trail a thing, saying an unscathed fluke You will be lavender Now that demoralization will be vengeful, you will have demoralization in your idleness You will welcome the delight beyond the thigh Like a deck Oily facts, oily vengeful matters That friend will be yours Declines should transform into persons My reading, you will be here, hearing like a chief
I think my work here is done.