Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I've Got Your Back, Flarf

My friends who don't write poetry and claim to "not get it" like to pull me aside, sit me down and have conversations about how silly it all is and why do I bother with it. The past two conversations like this, most recently, have begun, "you know, the thing about poetry is..." and "poets should be more assessable..." and I squish my nose defensively and if the old man is around, our eyes say O JOY. One thing I'd like to say is that I really never hear people attacking other art-generators as much as I hear poets being attacked (not that other writers/artists aren't questioned about their difficult material). For instance, I didn't understand one of my friend's paintings and asked him what it was all about. He said the image was from a film. I felt bad that I hadn't seen the film and put it into my Netflix que right away. Please note that I didn't say, "You know, Artist Friend, why can't you paint flowers to look like vaginas? Why did you have to make this so hard for me? Why did you have to make me feel as though there was something in the world I hadn't yet experienced?"

Anyway, what I eventually talk about with non-poets, after the definition for what is assessable has been established and pissed on, is that there are many different kinds of poetry out there and there is, I think, a poet that every person can feel comfortable reading. We're kind of like sweaters, really. The last two conversations I had, I mentioned Flarf because I knew those friends were pretty internet savvy and I thought they'd find it interesting, which they did. Luckily, Katie Degentesh's The Anger Scale was nearby and the old man read "I Loved My Father." I like the way Flarf shuts people up while they are thinking. It's funny, watching the change come over someone's face when they find that something they thought was going to be meaningless is actually the opposite, is quite thoughtfully constructed and provocative. If (IF) most new poetry is disconnected, disjointed, and full of stuff because the world is, because we're going to die and we don't want it to be meaningless and we can't help it and we're hopeless, Flarf, at least for me, is a kind of poetry that has its own nook, its own unique gesture of meaning taken from information floating out there.

Sorry about the loud train! I didn't have time to unplug all my external hard drives to record in the bathroom, which is what I usually do. Listen to "I Loved My Father" here:

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