Friday, June 27, 2008

"What's Your Relationship to Flarf?" My Wife Asks Me Over Breakfast/Orono Part VI

As we're sitting down to breakfast, with a busy day planned, my wife turns and asks me, "What's your relationship to Flarf?" Dear, it's purely platonic. Actually, I kept waking her as I was scrawling lines for a book of poems I'm trying to finish (Obraz: A Petersburg Album), and random titles for some flarfy poems--so she deserves to know what's messing with her sleep.

She mentioned that I said I thought it was endearing that the elder generation of language poets were so friendly-like with the Flarf Collective at the Orono Conference; certainly, many other elder poets of other stripes would pronounce the youngers to be upstarts who don't deserve to poop in the same bathroom as they. So, kudos to you, language poets, for not being "the new boss."

I learned about Flarf from Mike Magee, who joined the Flarf Collective as it was reaching its second iteration (mature phase?), and was fascinated (if often aghast) at the new poems that Mike was sharing with me, (some of which he read at John Carroll in 2002--including one I asked him not to read, called "Practice Tests," so that I could avoid getting fired so soon in my new job).

For those who don't know about Flarf, just google it. Google is the goggles for Flarf.

I've been feeling flarfy for a few years before that, probably also due to Mike's zaniness, and finally produced something that I more or less feel like showing around, a sequence called Ibn Gitmo Flarf Stations--poems of which have appeared or are appearing in Anti-, Coconut, Shampoo, and other places.

They are not trademark Flarf, they're knockoff flarf, everyone owns it now.

You can read some of them at Coconut here and at Shampoo here.

Here's one from Conconut:

So this is where you come to escape. He pointed
to my t-shirt while saying something in Arabic
sounding like "sling them" to the rottweiler
who had chewed through his leash. I smiled
at the dog. When I looked down, I found
Kathleen Turner on the other end of the leash,
smiling at me. People who go into Starbucks
do not see it's a quasi political show
of Sadomasochism that has nothing to do
with religion. I'm the centerpiece, you're
a mortice, I'm a pitbull off his leash.
All poets say: my legacy is latency.
A peculiar form of sadomasochistic sadness,
leather clad ashen and publicly.

After a conversation with Anne Boyer at the Orono Conference, I decided to play around with titling the poems. That's what awoke my wife.

As for the Flarf Collective, I am scared of Gary Sullivan, who patrols Flarf in somewhat the same way the Death Star is patrolled by Darth Vader. Gary, I love you man, just no Jedi choke hold, alright? And of course, I admire the enthusiastic and clearly supportive aspect of their collectivity. Being on the outside of the Collective, I can see all the benefits of membership only through the window; thus, I am jealous as hell, how they write with and for each other.

Anyone want to start a collective? Tha Lonely Protestah.


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