Linh Dinh: Assembly line line breaks, Kent, and the decline of the comma, one of the greatest of inventions. Worse than reality TV, confessional poetry that doesn’t fess up. On the other leg, paratatic glossolalia, and in the middle, a shriveled hybrid. A feeble bunt. Why not speak the unspeakable, for once?

Kent Johnson: The AWP was, like, unspeakably fun. Oops, a burnt carcass is what M. Ansari resembled, after he was set ablaze, with family, by phosphorous bomb, in poppy fields outside Herat. And still he breathes… Perhaps he will yet go to America one day, to study Conceptual Poetry, as he dreams.

LD: Reagan, “Life ain’t fair.” It’s cool to witness, especially on a flat screen. Most are merely teased. Century ago, you would be dead already from a misplaced period, before you could test your malnourished dip stick. Morose man during happy hours, “Study hard, I counseled my dick. Become a jester.”

KJ: Close your eyes and think of England, Mlle Khalil, you Champion of the Poetry Fair of your Gaza school, a fortnight back, evaporated, with classmate, 'neath the blossoming bower. We wish we could've warned you: Don't hide under sentimental flowers, dear... Adieu. Our panel, “Innovative Poetry in the Academy," is packed.

LD: I too speak English, Kent, though from my restless void, downtrodden with scrapple, bow, bower and bowel all sound the same. Blame the Pentagon. Thanks to globalism, we don’t manufacture yet export words and pixels. Each burp of ours well packaged, to be parsed by natives. I read Snodgrass today.

KJ: Mr. Ahmad, picking up his own arm, sees the torso of his son, Rashad, silly clear across the square. Go, Mr. Ahmad, Go! Through uncreativity, unoriginality, appropriation, plagiarism, fraud, theft, and falsification we will rip Poetry's heart apart, and rain down on you blue mud tiles of radical avant-garde art.

LD: Don’t point your severance at me, dude. I marched, held up a signifier. Is it my fault I was born with an original recipe carcass inside my chops? We gave them free jazz, didn’t we? Who said you have to be napalmed, queer and of la raza to be anthologized?

KJ: Said Amin, 24, a poet, had his legs severed by Humvee gunner M. Allen, 24, a poet, too. “Look at my feet there on the road!” cried M. Amin. Then he died. The Pulitzer is ours, the NBCC, NYTBR, NBA, the Academy. In transport, our eyes go white: We're "avant."

LD: Thanks to Amin, Allen is a thundering witness on tour and hanging with Forche, though his balls are AWOL. Goddamn Amin’s posse. Breaking pita, they’re all best friends now. “It’s not fair, Said. With a name like that, you were destined to be a poet, a has been poet.”

KJ: Oblivious to our station, sometimes we poets blabber just to show
We are brighter than other people. When we do, we can’t really know
What we are saying, and everyone is very glad when we stop.
Think: Do the birds sing to show they are brighter? No, they do not.

Video by Matthew Zacharias:


Originally Published: April 24th, 2010

Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the U.S. in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press 2004), and the novel Love...