Poetry News

Read Daniel Borzutzky's 'Data Harbor' at BOMB

By Harriet Staff


We'd highly recommend a gander at this: Chicago poet Daniel Borzutzky has some new work in BOMB's First Proof, and they've put the data up for your digital eyes. An excerpt from "Data Harbor" (please read the full text there):


The manager at Data Harbor quit her job to become a conceptual artist.

She used to oversee the harboring of the data, and now she works in a laboratory, injecting poetry into blood cells and bacterium, analyzing the data to understand the new poems that will form in the ooze of her petri dish.

In basements and cubicles we harbor the data and we are worried about formaldehyde and asbestos.

We harbor the data and we harbor the carcasses and we try to keep the two sets of information separate.

But sometimes the data and the carcasses merge into carcass-data and we are forced to ask questions about tissues and livers and kidneys that are beyond the scope of our limited expertise.

The history of man is the history of pain though perhaps it is also the history of man’s perception of pain and perhaps it is also the history of man’s quantification of pain and perhaps it is also the history of the absence—words and the hole words that constitute man’s inability to give voice to his pain.

We wear masks to protect us from the data that has been ruined by nature’s intrusion into architecture.

We cover our bodies in liquids and lotions to prevent the accumulation in our orifices of abscesses, boils and furuncles.

We are afraid the boils will join with other boils and our orifices will fill with crust and oozing pus.

We touch the data then wash our hands. We do not touch each other while touching the data. None of us have any desire to touch each other even after we have touched the data. The data and the carcasses have eliminated the urge for sexual activity among all the data-entry specialists. We barely speak to each other when we are in the act of harboring the data.

As I travel back and forth between carcass-set and data-set, I daydream that the owner of Data Harbor, a Dutch man who has harbored data throughout the United States and the European Union, offers me $5,000 to set all of the data and all of the carcasses on fire. Sometimes I accept the money and set the harbor ablaze, while other times I set myself on fire on the walkway that runs along the harbor. I do this to protest the accumulation of data in my bloodstream. I do this so others will not have to fend off the data.

No one in my data-dreams speaks on cellular phones.

Instead, they leak emails out of their tongues and eye balls.

They defecate emails and faxes and I can see that their bodies are filled with buttons to activate the dispersion of documents and data.

Sounds about right. Check out Borzutzky's Nightboat book too.

Originally Published: January 4th, 2013