Prose from Poetry Magazine

Flarf is Dionysus. Conceptual Writing is Apollo.

An introduction to the 21st Century's most controversial poetry movements.
Introduction

The fragment, which ruled poetry for the past one hundred years, has left the building.

Start making sense. Disjunction is dead. The fragment, which ruled poetry for the past one hundred years, has left the building. Subjectivity, emotion, the body, and desire, as expressed in whole units of plain English with normative syntax, has returned. But not in ways you would imagine. This new poetry wears its sincerity on its sleeve . . . yet no one means a word of it. Come to think of it, no one’s really written a word of it. It’s been grabbed, cut, pasted, processed, machined, honed, flattened, repurposed, regurgitated, and reframed from the great mass of free-floating language out there just begging to be turned into poetry. Why atomize, shatter, and splay language into nonsensical shards when you can hoard, store, mold, squeeze, shovel, soil, scrub, package, and cram the stuff into towers of words and castles of language with a stroke of the keyboard? And what fun to wreck it: knock it down, hit delete, and start all over again. There’s a sense of gluttony, of joy, and of fun. Like kids at a touch table, we’re delighted to feel language again, to roll in it, to get our hands dirty. With so much available language, does anyone really need to write more? Instead, let’s just process what exists. Language as matter; language as material. How much did you say that paragraph weighed?

Our immersive digital environment demands new responses from writers. What does it mean to be a poet in the Internet age? These two movements, Flarf and Conceptual Writing, each formed over the past five years, are direct investigations to that end. And as different as they are, they have surprisingly come up with a set of similar solutions. Identity, for one, is up for grabs. Why use your own words when you can express yourself just as well by using someone else’s? And if your identity is not your own, then sincerity must be tossed out as well. Materiality, too, comes to the fore: the quantity of words seems to have more bearing on a poem than what they mean. Disposability, fluidity, and recycling: there’s a sense that these words aren’t meant for forever. Today they’re glued to a page but tomorrow they could re-emerge as a Facebook meme. Fusing the avant-garde impulses of the last century with the technologies of the present, these strategies propose an expanded field for twenty-first-century poetry. This new writing is not bound exclusively between pages of a book; it continually morphs from printed page to web page, from gallery space to science lab, from social spaces of poetry readings to social spaces of blogs. It is a poetics of flux, celebrating instability and uncertainty.

Yet for as much as the two movements have in common, they are very different. Unlike Conceptual Writing, where procedure may have as much to do with meaning as the form and content, Flarf is quasi-procedural and improvisatory. Many of the poems are “sculpted” from the results of Internet searches, often using words and phrases that the poet has gleaned from poems posted by other poets to the Flarflist e-mail listserv. By contrast Conceptual Writers try to emulate the workings and processes of the machine, feeling that the results will be good if the concept and execution of the poetic machine are good; there is no tolerance for improvisation or spontaneity.

Flarf plays Dionysus to Conceptual Writing’s Apollo. Flarf uses traditional poetic tropes (“taste” and “subjectivity”) and forms (stanza and verse) to turn these conventions inside out. Conceptual Writing rarely “looks” like poetry and uses its own subjectivity to construct a linguistic machine that words may be poured into; it cares little for the outcome. Flarf is hilarious. Conceptual Writing is dry. Flarf is the Land O’Lakes butter squaw; Conceptual Writing is the government’s nutritional label on the box. Flarf is Larry Rivers. Conceptual Writing is Andy Warhol. No matter. They’re two sides of the same coin. Choose your poison and embrace your guilty pleasure.KG


  FLARF & CONCEPTUAL WRITING
Jordan Davis Three Poems on Demand
Mel Nichols I Google Myself
Sharon Mesmer The Swiss Just Do Whatever
K. Silem Mohammad Poems About Trees
Nada Gordon Unicorn Believers Don’t Declare Fatwas
Drew Gardner Why do I hate Flarf so much?
Gary Sullivan Am I Emo?
A poetry comic.
Caroline Bergvall The Not Tale (Funeral)
Christian Bök The Great Order of the Universe
Robert Fitterman Directory
Kenneth Goldsmith Two Poems from “The Day”
Craig Dworkin Fact
Vanessa Place Miss Scarlett
Originally Published: July 1st, 2009

Kenneth Goldsmith's writing has been called some of the most "exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry" by Publishers Weekly. Goldsmith is the author of eight books of poetry, founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb (http://ubu.com), and the editor I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol...

Appeared in Poetry Magazine This Appears In
  1. July 1, 2009
     Michael Hessel-Mial

    Yay! The conjoined twins are finally running in the same direction!

  2. July 1, 2009
     Michael Gushue

    The normal English spelling is Dionysus. The last vowel sound in Greek is closer to "oo" than "i."

  3. July 1, 2009
     LH

    Great line-up, Kenny.

  4. July 2, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    Dale Smith has an interesting and serious response to Kenny Goldsmith's Intro/Manifesto today at Possum Pouch:

    http://www.possumego.blogspot....

    His phrase for the phenomenon, a handy one for future reference, perhaps, is "F-Con Po." But read his essay.

    Kent

  5. July 2, 2009
     www.metaschit.blogspot.com

    These are turning into catch-phrases Kenneth. Conceptual writing started 5 years ago? Really? How so?

    Interesting you said conceptual... excuse me, C!onceptual Writing "uses its own subjectivity." So an object has its own subjectivity eh? That's interesting. And what I love the most is how you said "the object uses" (its own subjectivity).

    -ry

  6. July 2, 2009
     Robert Barry Hass

    How...post...excuse me...how post-m....there's this thing in my throat...sincerity...grhhhhhagh.....how post-post-m....excuse me, there's...once I had control over contex....excuse me, grhhhumph...excuse me...i just need a bit of direction, you choose....escusemuua...language is just a contex....language...hmmmmgh (in my throat) language is just....bug in my throat...water...excuse me...ghrrrrhuhuhu...this is the new poesy because...jesus, excuse me...this is terrible...I apologize...soon, not just...now...hhhmmmm...water...I can't speak for myself...hmmphf...I can't speak for myself, but...hmmphf...I'm sure this'll clear up and soon I'll be able to...hmmphf...occasionally there's a pattern...hmmmmggg...jesus...we'll make this happen...we'll make this happen, hold on...okay, so we may be behind the times by forty years in terms of....haauuuuughhly shit....hold on...can someone get me...can someone get me something I can swallow...hold on...my fault...it's what we are, it's a mirror of how we...hauuugh...jesus....hold on...in a post-McSwee...haghhh...in a post-rational...hold on I got this...we can fail in public and be given....excuse me...a stand, a place, because of who is afraid of missing us...excuse me...haughgghh...who is afraid of missing out on the new...I'm done, excuse me...the new being confused with...excuse me...

  7. July 2, 2009
     Michael Ford

    If conceptual writing is Andy Warhol, why are we talking about as if it were the next new thing in poetry? Conceptual writing's been dead for 22 years!

  8. July 2, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    So like where's the controversy?

    Probably it's just poetry that's dead.

  9. July 2, 2009
     (Not) Kenneth Goldsmith

    I am the weatherman. Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: O hear! I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!

  10. July 2, 2009
     Bob Dylan

    How to Measure Windspeed and Direction by Licking Your Finger

    1. Stand still. If you are moving, it will be difficult to get an accurate "reading".

    2. Lick the ball of your finger, or moisten the ball of your finger with water.

    3. Hold your finger straight out in front of you.

    4. Take note of the direction. If you feel a chill on the ball of your finger, the wind is coming from that direction. If you do not feel the chill, rotate your finger 360 degrees, until you reach the angle where you feel wind chill. This is the wind direction.

    5. Determine wind strength by strength of chill on your finger. It's best to try this technique several times with a known wind speed for practice.

  11. July 2, 2009
     John Ashbery

    Cobwebs and rhododendrons, it wasn't the
    west wind, aiming a bow and arrow at a
    star, that brought Eliso Virsaladze to play Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with a
    Tootsie Roll Pop.

  12. July 2, 2009
     Casey Smiff

    The adverb why
    Always ongoing
    Silently explicating
    Absently weaving
    Cumquat narratives

  13. July 2, 2009
     Possum Mirror

    from Dale's blog, the prescient nut:

    "The new yuppies are "alternative" "hipsters" so the new yuppie professors are sometimes these F-con-po fuckers. They are legitimizing their privilege with "noise" and "the internet," just as establishment poets in the past legitimized their privilege their privilege with "craft". They have their own new camoflage and are actually fool themselves more than the rest of us -- relying on metaphor here for shorthand."

  14. July 2, 2009
     Nick Demske

    That's why love is so hot.

  15. July 2, 2009
     HenryJamesHenryJames

    "What does it mean to be a poet in the
    Internet age?"
    Aparently it's using the means at hand
    to sell yourself, since "work" pretty
    much seems out of the question. So all
    one's left with is a cultural signifier
    selling its own brand / name.

    "Identity, for one, is up for grabs."
    But what's on offer isn't, not a bit; your
    byline and the shopping list of writers
    appended to this post only confirms it.
    Art & poetry's personal playah politics
    are as firmly entrenched as ever, if not
    more in such practice, where in the end
    you're doing little more than selling
    your name / image /product in the
    same old buy me, validate me,
    promote me, love me, gluttonous daisy
    chain of cultural capitalism. Another
    product for consumption in the real and
    virtual marketplaces. How much did
    you say these paragraph payed?

    Any such appropriation that stops
    anywhere short of appropriating
    identity itself is simply charlatanism
    masquerading as the new avant-garde.
    If the old "multiple names" anyone can
    use, such as Monty Cantsin, Karen
    Elliott, Luther Blissett, Alan Smithee et
    al are too passe, unhip (or have
    become attached to real people) for
    y'all, might I suggest continuing to
    subvert the name of the most popular,
    most underappreciated, greatest,
    worst, critically ignored, most incredibly
    varied writer / troll / critic of all time --
    anonymous.

  16. July 2, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Forgive my ignorance as I have never been hip, cool or any of that. Let alone savvy to sophistication of "modern" art and literature. Please just let me ask these questions:

    How can a poem be a poem if it is not written BY the poet?

    What's more how can a poem be a poem without sincerity, real emotion, allusion, allegory, or thought?

    How can a poem be a poem if it is not true?

    How can a poem be a poem if it is not a viggnette of the life and soul of the poet?

    Isn't metaphor used to enhance the intent of the diction?

    I am naive and truly confused, or perhaps my outlook on poetry is more biased to my "literary upbringing"; that is Chinese poetry.

    So...doesn't the poem serve a function other that to be a "sculpture" of words?

    Isn't a poem meant to be sung, recited, wailed or extolled?

    Doesn't the poem need to have resonance with the hearts and minds of others, and therefore serve an important social function?

    Perhaps I am an uneducated rustic for asking these questions, but could someone find it in their heart to answer these ignorant questions of mine?

    Thank you.

  17. July 2, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    P.S.

    1. Isn't the term "coneprtual writing" hyperbole? All writing is based on a concept or at least a paradign? Moreover a poem is based on "conceptions" and "images", is it not?

    2. What exactly is "flarf"? What does this word mean? Where did it come from? Sorry I live overseas and have been out of the fold of new colloquialisms and I can't find this word in my dictionary of new English words. Could someone enlighten me, please?

    Thank you.

  18. July 2, 2009
     stevenfama

    Kenny,

    Nice strong statement about what you and others are doing with writing. And as you know, I love the stuff (poetry) you and others write.

    But I don't take to the claim that conceptual/flarf are "new." Nor to the directly implied idea that these ways of writing somehow trump any other given the world and the ways that came before.

    Your books, Kenny, are great. So too others by other conceptual/flarf writers. But so too, just for example, are the poems by John Olson, Joseph Massey, Lisa Jarnot, etc. etc. I can't go with you in casting all the latter as something other than "new writing" or poetry that somehow doesn't respond to our "digital age."

    In fact, that you make such claims suggests to me that you're trying to boost your own work to the exclusion of other ways of writing. Or are doing so as an act of provocation, to gain attention.

    Does it really violate your world-view to say that conceptual/flarf are two ways of responding in writing to the world as it is, that there are plenty of other ways as well, and that poetry made via those other ways can be equally challenging, fun, and necessary?

  19. July 2, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    Ivan,

    (I tried posting a version of this, but it seems to have vanished.)

    Those are good questions and it's good that you asked them here. I myself don't think that poetry necessarily needs to be based on the principles or motivations you list: Poetry is always changing and its nature is always being questioned. In fact, no one can really say what "poetry" really is.

    Those who are critiquing the Flarf and Conceptual poets aren't doing so because of the methods they employ-- the methods have been around for a long time, and there's nothing particularly "cutting edge" about them, even though the poets in question would like you to think there is. What people are critiquing, rather, are the smug, elitist, and self-serving attitudes that underlie the particular applications and justifications of those methods.

    It's excellent that you threw out these questions here.

    Kent

  20. July 2, 2009
     Kenneth Goldsmith

    Steven,

    This Poetry Magazine feature spotlights two contemporary movements that are exploring technology in similar veins with very different results. But they're only two approaches. As you point out, there are many others working this way and, indeed, a comprehensive survey or anthology could -- and perhaps should -- be gathered.

    Kenneth

  21. July 2, 2009
     Kenneth Goldsmith

    Ivan,

    I have written a very basic, in-depth primer about Conceptual Poetics, which can be downloaded here as a PDF:

    http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors...

    Kenneth

  22. July 2, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Dear Mr. Johnson:
    Thank you so much for your reply. Indeed, many people and cultures have different yet sometimes similar ideas of what poetry is. Literature like religion after all occurs in a cultural conext. Since I generally expose myself to many contexts of culture and thought I tend to lean toward a more typological attitude towards literatrue, in particular poetry. What are its universals?
    Perhaps the core of my assumptions is this:
    Poetry must be honest. I must come from the writer's own psyche and diction.
    Not that I'm necessarily crticizing other poets' work, I just don't really understand it. It seems incoherent and disjointed. Honestlty, it sounds and reads like the ramblings of mentally ill people or disaffected teenagers. Nothing at all like the the "whole units of plain English with normative syntax" mentioned in Mr. Goldsmth's article. What is it trying to say? Why is it trying to deliver a message in this way? What image is it trying to affect or present?
    Now before any of the poets who write in this style role up their sleeves and answer this post with:

    "You f*ing a*hole, what the f* do you know?"

    Let me first present my disclaimer:
    I studied literature as my major in college, but I studied Chinese literature in Taiwan. My literary upbringing is in CLASSICAL Chinese literature. As far as my own native language of English goes; I still have my head wrapped up in Tagore and Yeats. I have only recently started reading more modern literature (stuff published in the last 30 years) in either English or Chinese, so I am asking my questions out of ignorance and naivette. If Ezra Pound was alive today he would probably say I'm too stupid to ubderstand this poetry, and he would probably be right:)

  23. July 2, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Dear Mr. Goldsmith:

    Thank you Mr. Glodsmith! I will read your PDF right away. Thank you very much!

    Sincerely,
    Ivan Zimmer

  24. July 3, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Dear Mr. Goldsmith:
    I just rad your explaination of conceptual poetry. Every thought and mode of expression contained within that explaination is diametricaly opposed to everything I was taught and considered good form, meaning and rhetoric to be.
    However, I kind of get it now. Thank you for expanding my range of appreciation for modern English poetry.
    Do you realize what you have done for me? You have helped me evolve from a dinosaur into a turkey.
    So I guess now I can sit with the ghost of Marcel Duchamp, his picture of the Mona Lisa, a 32 oz. Big Gulp of Demitasse and ponder this form of poetry of which I'm not well aquainted.

    Thank you for enlightening me!

    Sincerely,
    Ivan Zimmer

  25. July 3, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Dear Mr. Zimmer:

    I can answer all of your questions above in three words:

    You are correct.

    I wouldn't trade my Bentley for an Edsel.

  26. July 3, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    A Bentley is a truly grand and beautiful car. I prefer the Bentley. The Edsel is a curiosity at best.

  27. July 3, 2009
     Stephen Rodriguez

    Ivan,

    Tachnically, all writing can be poetry, as long as it's read or written as a poem. Just as all noises are music to the tuned listener.

    Even something as spontaneous and meaningless as:

    "Sand flower red angry survival."

    is a poem.

  28. July 3, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    P.S.

    Ivan...you need to work on your typing skills...as others need to work on their poetic skills.

    :-)

  29. July 3, 2009
     Michael Gushue

    Thanks for correcting the spelling of Dionysus! It was bugging me.

    As we all know, Dionysus allowed Agave to tear her son Pentheus into pieces, enthusiastically.

    And Apollo had Marsyas flayed alive for being a not so good musician.

  30. July 3, 2009
     Flarf My Arse

    Well of course, flarf came about because of a priori historical pressures in the continuum which runs from Homer to Silliman, a sort of overawed Apollonian venture into the unknown terrain in which the atelier of an artist as sooth-sayer is all up in the airness, a coming togetherness and mis-matched meanings marry more in the mode of Hammurabi than Mickey Mouse.

    Dionysus v Disney, Fertility v Flarf, which some say is the art of being in the moment, totally suited to a life on the run, a world were we unzip and let loose the silk to billow and carry us along, and the toggles of our parachute we pull that steer us, only in our own way, uniquely, each and every one of us.

    For flarf is a path to our own source of self and will not be a replica of anybody elses', and we learn to trust only with experience, the path our instinctive decisions lay along, and all we have to look back upon as the guide-lines to wherever we make up as the edifice of a pretend world others believe and buy into, or not.

    Conceptual eloquence begins pre-verbal, the tweet of an idea that we aim for, and the highest stream is to speak it with love, some claim, others not, but training as language artists in an alluring Western ambience where pastoral and urbane intersect and vectors of cultural flux mesh serendipitously - there are enough of us proclaiming of poesie from the page, to station on every street corner, mountain peak and in all wooded glen, working every sector of the poetic spectrum poets' compose in to reach "there"; be it - quantitive, syllabic, accentual stress, combined metric slam, L=A=N=G=A=U=G=E, open form, tragic confessional, comedic, write-through, mental conceptual composition or flarf - and the techniques we come to possess and deploy with varying degrees of success, failure, loss and benefit, in the acquiring of skills which increase the consumptional capacity of our appetite for language until such time that we feel capable of, metaphorically eating the alphabet, surely is the goal reachable 15 years hence, when our dream of scoffing knowledge on lingo binges, feasting on linguistical fare, lashing our eyes full of letter nosh, sucking soundgrub into our ear's gut and ingesting text for regurgitation to "other" voices who passenger with us on life's shuttlebus of love - has come to pass, comrades?

  31. July 3, 2009
     Tony Tost

    I hear Goldsmith is planning to unveil his most audacious, bad boy conceptual poem yet, a formaldehyde tank with the word 'shark' inside. How does he do it? Wherever does he get these crazy ideas?

  32. July 3, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Thank you, Mr. Fitzgerald for pointing out my careless typing. I really should be more careful and proofread before I post statements.
    I hope no one takes my careless typing as a disrespectful attitude towards this forum/conversation.
    My careless typing is merely the product of my big fingers lumbering over my small keyboard (when I should be busy with other matters) and not looking back to make sure my spelling and punctuation are correct.
    Let express my apologies to anyone reading my posts.

  33. July 3, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Ivan:

    I apologize for using your typing as a foil for my sarcastic comment about the 'poetry' that is the subject of this post. I think you may be taking this reply thread a little too seriously.

    You state that you are a student of classical Chinese literature. I am a Taoist.

    Let us laugh.

  34. July 3, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:
    僕儒家也,致敬---一本正經矣!與君同笑!

    If the Chinese doesn't show up, here's what I said: "I'm a Confucian, expressing my utmost respect---and quite sanctimonious alas! I will indeed laugh with you sir!

  35. July 3, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Confucius: Winter, Yin, electron.

    Lao tzu: Summer, Yang, proton.

  36. July 3, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Ezra Pound and Dick Cheney were Confucians, weren't they?

  37. July 4, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Just having a (f)larf, Ivan.

  38. July 4, 2009
     Adrian Slatcher

    Really enjoyed this issue of Poetry - with the flarf & conceptual selections. All good fun. I've blogged more detailed-ly about this here. http://bit.ly/QPUyr - Being in the UK, I do like to think there might be an international dimension to all of this.... Caroline Bergvall read in Manchester some time ago, and very much enjoyed that, otherroom.org regular innovative poetry night in the city.

  39. July 4, 2009
     Ian Spell

    I like the idea of weighing paragraphs. It sounds like something Khlebnikov might advocate, albeit he would begin with the syllable, and, using proprietary techniques, calculate a mode of expression in which the playpen is merely one subset: as indeed flarf is of the conceptual.

  40. July 5, 2009
     Juan M.

    After reading the poems I agree that the term flarf -- which conflates fart, lark, and laugh into one pointed term -- is apt.

    As for "conceptual writing," from the PDF linked by Goldsmith: "Conceptual writing’s primary influences are Gertrude Stein’s densely unreadable texts, John Cage & Jackson Mac Low’s procedural compositions, and Andy Warhol’s epically unwatchable films."

    The above is evident from the examples, but I especially enjoyed reading the PDF which is both humorous and itself a proponent of its own arguments. Do beware of imitative fallacy, however.

  41. July 5, 2009
     erika staiti

    return of the manifesto
    as the subjects gather round

    lord help us.

  42. July 5, 2009
     C. Clark

    Kenneth,

    I enjoyed reading this article and your primer PDF (as linked to above). I wasn’t bored reading about conceptual writing. The flow of, what I imagine are, the usual questions went through my head, questions such as: ‘Do you ever feel inspired?’, ‘Why would you want to call the texts produced in this way poetry, in fact do you? In this essay it’s called conceptual “writing”…does it matter?’, ‘What are your intentions?’, ‘Is it all about the ownership, the “intervention” of the performer/producer of the texts?’ ‘Sex, fetish?’ ‘Is it a treatment for impotency, a way to feel one is still “writing”?’ –All questions that simply reveal more about my point of view, and aren’t really seeking an answer to a true question, questions that prove I’m a boring old fart and, having written them, I no longer require an answer. But I do have one real open question: You talk in your PDF primer about: “The endless cycle of textual fluidity: from imprisonment, to emancipation, back to imprisonment, then freed once more”. My question is: freed from what? Simply from the place where it once was?
    And then I read on the webpage of Christian Bök’s ‘Eunoia’: “The text makes a Sisyphean spectacle of its labour, willfully crippling its language to show that, even under such improbably conditions of duress, language can still express an uncanny, if not sublime, thought.” Would it be fair to apply this conclusion to all the products of conceptual writing and flarf? Sorry, that’s two questions.
    Thank you!

  43. July 6, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    For another (decidedly incipient, less Lit-Market-attentive) take on the Conceptual, check out the post today "Community Reports, Vol 1":

    http://www.possumego.blogspot....

    Temporary Autonomous Poetic Zones!

  44. July 6, 2009
     Arif Khan

    "Identity, for one, is up for grabs. "

    Cracker.

  45. July 6, 2009
     Arif Khan

    If there's any future for the so-called
    avant-garde it will have to take a closer
    look at globalization and culture. There's
    is the most full of shit essay I've read all
    week. Thanks for the laugh.

  46. July 7, 2009
     Kenneth Goldsmith

    Hi Arif, I'm not sure how words that are entirely appropriated from global networks can't help but be closely intertwined with globalization and culture. Kenneth

  47. July 7, 2009
     Kenneth Goldsmith

    Thank you for your comments, C. Clark. When I talk about textual fluidity, I'm referring to a textual ecology that makes a play between text that is housed locally on a non-networked and that which is in play and exposed to various processes when it is being bounced around on a network. When housed locally, text can be frozen in storage; then it becomes fluid when socialized on the network.

    I'm not sure that I would like to call these texts "poetry," which is why I refer to them as Conceptual Writing. However, the poetry world is the only one that welcomed this type of writing -- the art world and fiction world wouldn't have us -- so I feel very much in debt and a great deal of gratitude toward the poetry world. I owe its openness it a lot.

    There is a difference between, say, conceptual art an conceptual writing (as it's being constructed today); conceptual art (and Oulipo) were about propositions and potential. Due to the greatly increased materiality and abundance of language today, we must mimic those workings by realizing these ideas as opposed to simply theorizing them; our processes must imitate the way machines treat language if we wish to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

  48. July 7, 2009
     Michael

    Arif, why are you calling Kenny Goldsmith
    a "cracker"?

    Jews aren't crackers.

    I'm a cracker.

    You need to come up with a slightly
    different racial epithet if you want to
    attack Kenny's ethnicity.

  49. July 7, 2009
     kt

    i think flarf is ridiculous and i dislike it, but
    neither do i like the epithet "cracker." i
    think we can hate on the manifestos
    without resorting to ad hominem attacks,
    yes? or...at least, i know I can.

  50. July 7, 2009
     ADR

    While cracker has become an epithet for
    some, I am from Northern Florida where
    the term may have originated. It's a
    kind of cowboy here, or more generally,
    an early Florida homesteader (see
    Cracker architecture: http://www.oldhouseweb.com/arc...
    re-and-design/cracker-farmhouses-
    1840-1920.shtml).

    In my poetry travels, I have noticed
    that Northerners generally consider the
    word offensive (the mention of Cracker
    Swamp, only a few miles from where I
    sit now, is poorly received). However,
    my Minorcan/Cracker ancestry leads me
    to feel otherwise.

    That said, I am not sure that Kenneth
    Goldsmith is a Cracker. Though he
    might be. Are you Kenny? Either way, I
    wouldn't feel offended if someone called
    you a Cracker, or if he/she called me a
    Cracker, or if you called me a Cracker,
    or if you turn out to be a Cracker, and I
    call you a Cracker.

  51. July 7, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    I think some the science based "conceptual writing" is very interesting. However, some of the "flarf" poems are as I said before, reminiscent of the rambling of mentally ill people or dissaffected teenagers. In particular, the flarf poem above "The Swiss Do Whatever" is incredibly offensive (and I'm not even Swiss!).
    I don't have a "big" problem with other peoples words being strung together, but literary genre aside, those words should mean something, or at least should be trying to present some kind of central idea/vision/thought etc.

    Nevertheless, all forms of expression should have the right to exist, even flarf might evole into a worthwhile poetic/literary form in time.

    Conceptual writing should have a place as well, because some pieces of this kind of writing though cumbersome to read through do activate one's thinking and reflection. That's okay. Not that I'm a "real" poet, I just read and write poetry (though my poems have never been published). So if conceptual writing needs a home, then the world of poetry might as well be its home.
    Welcome!

    As for the gentleman Mr. Rodriguez who states anything can be a poem, I must respectfully dissagree. If that is the case than anything can be prose, a novel or a script for matter.
    Just imagine:

    Mary: looolooo waaa dog!
    John: zoozabah! winkwinkwangidooodle cat!

    For the person tuned to "this kind of avant-garde (I hate that word, what's wrong with the English "advance guard" or "experimental"; why we alls gotta use French) theatre" then this would be the epitomy of art. Huh?

    Literature must have a purpose. I must spek to the human soul. It must have resonance with sombody, somewhere, sometime. Which is why I would never agree to anyone's "art" being outcast. Literature has forms and genres, styles and modes. Most of all, literature serves a social funtion. It is a meeting of minds and a mode of 'intelligent' communication.

    To Mr. Fitzgerald :

    Ezra Pound was NOT a Confucian. He tried translating Classical Chinese literature with less than adequate Chinese-English and Chinese Latin dictionaries full of mistakes as well as Japanese English dictionaries that focused more on vernacular Japanese. That would be trying to translate the Greek classics and the Hebrew through Russian using communist party approved Russian-English dictionaries adding your own twist on what you think the writings SHOULD mean instead of what they DO mean. Ezra Pound understood a little Japanese and no Chinese. In fact, he didn't even really understand to much about Chinese literature and culture, let alone on how to use Chinese thesauri and rhyme books produced over the last 2,000 years. He did have a slight pediliction to Confucuan thought, but not enough to be Confucian.
    (Remember, Confucian does not denote a religion. It donotes a sort of secular philosophy that stresses social/familial resonsibility, education and service but occurs in the Chinese cultural context, one that is continually evolving.)
    Ezra Pound was also overcome with the "East Mystique" that says: Everything "Oriental" is more sublime, superior and spiritual than any "Western" rubbish. Therefore, "Oriental" things are advanced, better and just closer to utopia than the "material Western/American world". Alot of people come here to Taiwan with that attitude. It IS VERY silly and wholly untrue. People in Eastern Asia are just as materialistic as we are. Everyone loves money, right?

    As for Dick Cheney being a Confucuan, I think if he were, he would have advocated making American schools the best in the world and making sure no American was in poverty.
    I don't think Dick Cheney was a Confucian. He might have been Taoist thought (philosophy, not religion). After all, didin't Lao-Tzu say: "The ruler regards the people as straw dogs"?

    Just teasing back! Don't get upset. If you would give me your e-mail, perhaps you and I could have more interesting conversations, Mr. Fitzgerald. You seem like an interesting person:)

  52. July 8, 2009
     Arif Khan

    "Identity, for one, is up for grabs. Why
    use your own words when you can
    express yourself just as well by using
    someone else’s?"

    Dear Mr. G--

    Can you explain this to your audience?
    I used the word "cracker" playfully and
    self-reflexively, exactly in the same
    manner as how a flarfist deploys
    identity. I wanted to fix the author's
    subjectivity. I'm surprised you and
    others took it personally. You write like
    someone attempting to make a
    trademark.

    Jews are basically white in America.

    http://findarticles.com/p/arti...
    SOR/is_1_61/ai_61908763/

    The term "cracker" has many
    connotations and its use of it in my
    response was meant to be ambiguous.

    Any one who thinks 'identity is up for
    grabs' who even uses that phrase has
    got to be someone fucked in the head.
    What does that mean, 'up for grabs?'

    Kent Johnson and others can comment
    much more of globalization, culture and
    hegemony. The ways in which the web
    becomes a place where other cultures,
    other languages and other 'minor'
    discourses become flattened. How does
    flarf and conceptual poetry deal with
    the way that certain languages,
    histories are dominant on the web?

    Jews are basically white in America.

    http://findarticles.com/p/arti...
    SOR/is_1_61/ai_61908763/

  53. July 8, 2009
     Arif Khan

    More nuanced analysis here:

    http://pmc.iath.virginia.edu/t...
    only/issue.599/9.3.r_levinson.txt

    "Leaving this tricky issue aside,
    Brodkin's narrative proceeds to
    explain how Jews once again
    became white. Amidst America's
    postwar economic boom, there was
    an expanded need for
    professional, technical, and
    managerial labor, and Jews and other
    previously "nonwhite" Europeans
    rushed into these positions,
    joining the emerging middle class.
    Unlike African Americans, who
    continued to be regarded as
    "natural" members of the underclass,
    the new middle-class workers were
    "cleansed" of their previous
    racialized status. Brodkin admits
    that she cannot account for
    this development with a
    unidirectional causal analysis. "As with
    most chicken and egg problems,"
    she writes, "it is hard to know
    which came first. Did Jews and other
    Euro-ethnics become white
    because they became middle-class?
    ... Or did being incorporated
    into an expanded version of
    whiteness open up the economic doors
    to middle-class status? Clearly, both
    tendencies were at work"
    (36). What is beyond doubt, Brodkin
    insists, is that Jews
    increasingly benefited from the
    array of social policies
    instituted to aid the rising middle
    class, among them education
    subsidies (i.e., the GI bill) and loans
    from the Federal Housing
    Administration (FHA). Needless to
    say, such benefits were not
    extended in the same proportion to
    African Americans."

    All best,

    Arif Khan

  54. July 8, 2009
     Arif Khan (II)

    Main Entry:crack·er
    Pronunciation: \ˈkra-kər\
    Function: noun
    Date: 15th century
    1 chiefly dialect : a bragging liar :
    boaster
    2 : something that makes a cracking or
    snapping noise: as a : firecracker b :
    the snapping end of a whiplash :
    snapper c : a paper holder for a party
    favor that pops when the ends are
    pulled sharply
    3 plural : nutcracker
    4 : a dry thin crispy baked bread
    product that may be leavened or
    unleavened
    5 a usually disparaging : a poor usually
    Southern white b capitalized : a native
    or resident of Florida or Georgia —used
    as a nickname
    6 : the equipment in which cracking (as
    of petroleum) is carried out
    7 : hacker 4

  55. July 8, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Talk about the literature!
    Mr.Khan should use better judgement when using terms that he deems "ambiguous", but are in fact quite loaded and are interpreted in a single sence.

    Why are you people talking about race? What a stupid conversation!

    Experimental writing is worth talking about, asking about, and commenting on. Or in my case criticizing/exploring.

    Racial comments are offensive. Is the ghost of a young political Ezra Pound haunting these webpages?

    Don't get me wrong, I understand and appreciate Pound's poetics. They are in part why I got intersted in literature. His politics however...

  56. July 9, 2009
     Arif Khan

    I am wondering how Mr. Goldsmith and other conceptual and flarf poets conceptualizes identity. That's all. There's nothing fascist about my earnest question. "Identity, for one, is up for grabs. Why use your own words when you can express yourself just as well by using someone else’s? And if your identity is not your own, then sincerity must be tossed out as well. Materiality, too, comes to the fore: the quantity of words seems to have more bearing on a poem than what they mean." If flarf can play with racial slurs, why can't I? If identity is thrown out the window and I can occupy any subject position, why can't I also play in the language sand box with the other boys? My gut says: "this is bullshit" and sometimes gets ahead of itself. I'll try to write more critically in the future. Any one who claims to be above their identity is, of course, a liar. Much of this subjectless/agentless identity talk is performed by white, middle class folks who have nothing better to do with their time. It is really more of the white, transcendental ego marking identities as it elusively escapes interrogating its own presence. This elusive notion of identity easily marks other bodies and gains capital by being 'left,' or 'antiracist,' profeminist or proqueer. So my "cracker" joke was simply turning that ostensible invisibility back to itself. I don't espouse some sort of identity politics position. However, I find a lot of this recent poetry ignores the substantial gains made by identity politics. All of this was already discussed a couple of summers ago so there's no use going over that. Any way, I couldn't care less about Goldsmith, or flarf or conceptual poetics, so feel free to erase my comment if it is offensive to you or Goldsmith. If the avant-garde ever moves forward it will have to come to terms with identity. It will have to start making more connections between marked bodies. From below. Not simply try to transcend identity with banal, over-the-top proclamations that only apply to white folks. I find "identity is up for grabs" offensive, and I hope Mr. Goldsmith will try to explain himself. If there ever is a real avant-garde movement this century it will emerge from the global South. All that we can do as diasporic marked bodies is hold the energy for that.

  57. July 9, 2009
     Robert

    "Anyone who claims to be above their identity is a liar"

    Presumably you mean "born-into" identity.

    In which case, the transgendered are "liars"?

    Glad to see that the Poetry Foundation had the foresight to delete your earlier rant against Jews.

    Chilling.

  58. July 9, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Mr. Khan:

    I agree with most of your critque above.

  59. July 9, 2009
     Kenneth Goldsmith

    Arif,

    The identity politics battles of the past twenty years have done wonders and have given voice to many that have been denied. And there is still so much work to be done: so many voices are still marginalized and ignored. It's a long road ahead and every effort must be made to be made to ensure that those who have something to say have a place to say it and an audience to hear it. The importance of this work cannot be underestimated.

    Identity is a slippery thing and no single approach can nail it. Also, citing the need for difference, we're never going to feel the same way on anything -- a good thing. We all come from different places and circumstances, which is something to be celebrated. To be prescriptive or to make generalizations regarding circumstances of economies, classes, religions and races is counterproductive.

    I really don't think that there's a stable or essential me. I am an amalgamation of so many things: books I've read, movies I've seen, televisions shows I've watched, all the exchange and sharing of thoughts during conversations with people -- the melding of our minds, the song lyrics I've heard, the lovers I've loved. The discussion that we're having right now is changing and challenging who I thought I was profoundly. And for that I'm grateful.

    In fact, I'm a creation of many people and many ideas to the point where I feel that I've actually had very few original thoughts and ideas; to think that any of this was original would be blindingly egotistical. Sometimes I'll think that I've had an original thought or feeling and then, at 2 a.m. while watching an old movie on TV that I hadn't seen in many years, the protagonist will spout something that I had previously claimed as my own. In other words, I took his words (which, of course, weren't really "his words" at all), internalized them and made them my own. This happens all the time.

    Often -- mostly unconsciously -- I'll model my identity of myself on some image that I've been pitched to by an advertisement. When I'm trying on clothes in a store, I will bring forth that image that I've seen in an ad and mentally insert myself and my image into it. It's all fantasy. I would say that an enormous part of my identity has been adopted from advertising. I very much live in this culture; how could I possibly ignore such powerful forces? Is it ideal? Probably not. Would I like not to be so swayed by the forces of advertising and consumerism? Of course, but I would be kidding myself if I didn't admit that this was a huge part of who I am as a member of this culture.

    As a previous commenter mentioned, transgendered persons are deeply committed to not being what they were born into. So many people who are not thrilled with the way they were born courageously labor their whole lives to adopt new and fluid identities. Others, such as transsexual persons are in a constant state of remaking themselves. I feel inspired by such fluid and changeable notions of identity.

    On the internet, these tendencies move in different directions. With much less commitment than it takes in meatspace, we can project various personas with mere stokes of a keyboard. In this chatroom, I'm a woman; on this blog, I'm a political conservative; in this forum, I'm a middle-aged golfer. And I never get called out for not being authentic or real. On the contrary, I am addressed as "madam," or "you right-wing asshole." In fact, Mr. Khan, I wouldn't be surprised if you were writing under a pseudonym right now. Not only would I forgive you, I've come to expect that the person I think I'm addressing on the internet isn't really "that person." Fascinating, no?

    If my identity is really up for grabs and changeable by the minute -- as I believe it is -- it's important that my writing reflect this state of ever-shifting identity and subjectivity. That can mean adopting voices that aren't "mine," subjectivities that aren't "mine," political positions that aren't "mine," opinions that aren't "mine," words that aren't "mine," because in the end, I don't think that I can possibly define what's "mine" and what isn't.

    BUT -- and here's where subjectivity enters -- it's my choices that make the work "mine." I have chosen -- for some specific reason -- a certain text to appropriate or to reframe. For example, in a recent piece of mine, I have appropriated the entire interrogation session between Senator Larry Craig and the policeman who arrested him. I haven't done a thing to the text, I've just reprinted the whole thing. Why? I thought it was such a revealing text, full of prejudice and hypocrisy from both sides. It was something much more profound -- even surreal -- than anything I could ever have invented. In the end, it's a beautiful piece of writing.

    Sometimes, by reproducing texts in a non-interventionist way, we can shed light on political issues in a more profound and illuminating way than we can by conventional critique. If we wished to critique globalism, for example, I can imagine that reproducing / framing the transcript as from yesterday's G8 summit meeting where they refused to ratify climate control threats would reveal much more about the truth of the situation than I could possibly say. Often, I feel it's better to let the text be what it is -- generally, as in the case of the G8, they'll incriminate and hang themselves with their own stupidity. I call this poetry.

    I feel as writers we try too hard. No matter what we do with language, it will be expressive. How could it be otherwise? In fact, I feel it is impossible working with language not to express oneself. If we back off and let the material do it's work, we might even in the end be able to surprise and delight ourselves with the results.

    Peace,
    Kenneth Goldsmith

  60. July 9, 2009
     GregScott Houghton

    After reading conceptual and flarf I felt somewhat ill from the effort followed by a harsh realization of facts. I have suspected (known) for some time that western society (probably World society) is rapidly running out of new things to say, new things to do, indeed anything truly-new. And, I am sad for it to be true. I also see the people/poets feeling the need to try to 'come-up-with and then introduce the next big (New) thing.
    The problem with much of today's poetry is loss of poetic story-line, nil 'mind's-eye' image-transference ( where is it goin' an' why?) and trendy favoritism.
    Now F & C is trying to prove a worth poetically and to gain acceptance of wordage bearing less actual value than the streaming of the alphabet. A mud-in-the-cup tea party can just go so far when the party-goer's get thirsty.
    Obviously we live in a tense and needy World (as portrayed in one form upon this comment page) and we are all looking for something to make us feel good. I say don't give up your search or believe you've found anything more than perhaps a link into a real and better future for poetry tomorrow. This whole F and C thing reminds me of...

    Crap
    I've seen they like crap, they even print it...er crap and shit and gibberish
    the same kinda shit that I writ a couple decades an' a lustrum ago
    crap is what it was, back then I thought it was good...but it was crap...er
    crap and shit and gibberish.
    I'am still capable of writing crap.
    Maybe I'll send some to them and see if they like any of my crap...
    er...Crap and Shit and Gibberish that is.

    take care-good luck- rave on
    GSH

  61. July 9, 2009
     John Oliver Simon

    Those who reject the concept of identity are still bucking for fame, fortune, tenure, grants, publications, awards, name on the masthead, and one's own furry face smiling bemused out of the website.

  62. July 10, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Ivan Zimmer said:

    “Just teasing back! Don't get upset.”

    Taoists don’t get upset, Ivan. That’s why we’re Taoists.

    Ivan Zimmer said:

    “After all, didn't Lao-Tzu say: "The ruler regards the people as straw dogs"?”

    Insofar as you are a scholar, I’m sure you know that the writings of Confucius, Mo Ti and Lao tzu were basically intended as advice to the emperor. Confucius championed order, organization and tradition. Good advice, maybe. But what Lao tzu means by “…treating the people as straw dogs.” is basically a recommendation for benevolent neglect. What we would now call Laissez-faire. He said only that a ruler of men should follow the rules of Nature, for nature has been truly kind to its subjects. They grow and prosper simply by being left alone. Nature favors those that succeed of their own volition. Today we call this the free market.

    The way to accomplish this is to let the people find their own way rather than force them to follow the emperor’s way. This is now known as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, freedom of religion and the freedom to vote.

    My, old ‘Long Ears’ was quite prescient, wasn’t he? As a scholar, you will also note that Confucius, after meeting with Lao tzu, compared him to a Dragon. A significant distinction in Bronze Age Chinese culture, don’t you think?

    And finally, Mr. Zimmer, I believe that you, like a true Confucian, take things way too seriously.

    Your friend,
    Gary

    .

  63. July 10, 2009
     Jamey Hecht
  64. July 10, 2009
     Ivan Zimmer

    Dear Gary:
    Yep! I'm a tightwad! I was just teasing you, don't get so uptight. Confucius, Taoism, leagalism...ism...ism, they all need to be taken in their historical/political/cultural context. In modern times if one says they're Confucian, they are Taoist as well becuase concepts and paradigns over the centuries have blended. In fact, that blending actually occued in the Western Han and matured in the Ming and Qing eras. The moden Taoist denotes a religion more than a philosophy. Chinese folk religion to be precise, which is a blending of everything that touches it. It is Vodou, Santaria, ancestor worship (advocated by Confucian and Taoist alike).It is a part of my daily life...gee, maybe I'm a Taoist too, lol!
    A modern 儒家concerns himself with learning, education, the betterment of society as a whole. In its day, Confucian thought was considered "revolutionary", today it is considered by some (who can't take it context) as reactionary. "East Mystiquers" feel the same way. Chinese society to this day is essentialy Confucian in its "moral nature"---it's Vodou, baby!

    Anyway, don't blame me fo taking things so seriously! I'm an English language and grammar teacher who can't type presentable English!
    You know many grammar teachers who aren't total neurotics? Come on, give me a break man. Show me some pity!lol
    Have a good one!

  65. July 11, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    LOL. You're okay, Ivan.

  66. July 12, 2009
     Elizabeth Stein

    I have to complain not about the poem but about flarf and conceptualist writings in general. This is the worst the to happen in the history of poetry. Poetry has become a random mess, without content, there's no meaning to it anymore. It isn't original and doesn't even say ANYTHING. Who honestly wants to waste their time reading something about nothing that has no point and is certainly not beautiful, it is only random and frankly the death of poetry!

  67. July 13, 2009
     the archaic avatar

    I'm always looking.

    I'm always looking for ways to make my words become words.

    I'm always looking for an excuse to read the fine print.

    I'm always looking for my glasses.

    I'm always looking to make sure there's honesty, spontaneity, & most importantly, friendship.

    I'm always looking at my hairline to see if it's receding or not.

    I'm always looking for new work.

    I'm always looking for the random mess of poetry, without content.

    I'm always looking for something new on the treadmill.

    I'm always looking to buy old vintage jigsaw puzzles.

    I'm always looking at womens cleavage when they are wearing low cut tops, or blouses, even if I don't find them attractive.

    I'm always looking for ways to improve my zombie make-up for the walks I do.

    I'm always looking for meaningful one-night stands.

    I'm always looking for instrumentals to rip.

    I'm always looking to explode more violently.

    I'm always looking to waste my time reading something about nothing that has no point which certainly cannot be beautiful, it is only random and frankly the death of poetry.

    I’m always looking for ways to find prospects in unorthodox ways.

    I'm always looking to improve and get better.

    I'm always looking for some obscure grammar structure.

    I'm always looking for something not written by myself, so I can just be myself.

    I'm always looking for different career options in multimedia.

    I'm always looking for the sun.

    I'm always looking for the perfect, but simple, solution for the many photography shots I take.

    I'm always looking for reassurance.

    I'm always looking for a fresh tangent to pursue.

    I'm always looking at them on other peoples blogs.

    I'm always looking back at a comment later and catching my mistakes.

    I'm always looking for simple things to add to my routine.

    I'm always looking up, if you're still looking down.

    I'm always looking to try new experiments with ethnobotanicals.

    I’m always looking for ways to simplify and strengthen the organization and use of information.

    I'm always looking to extract myself.

    I'm always looking into the digital age, but I call it "post-information".

    I'm always looking forward to whatever she's got up her sleeve for the next shot.

    I’m always looking for ways to hack my system the way I want.

    I'm always looking for the LOL.

    I'm always looking for great internet sites to visit.

    I'm always looking back on a scripted memory, to rest you in my head stored away to never return i'll forget everything.

    I’m always looking for jobs even though I’m currently happy where I am.

    I’m always looking for second opinions.

    I’m always looking for different angles on the same subject.

    I’m always looking out so I’m able to always prevent what might be.

    I'm always looking for new ways to make money.

    I'm always looking for ways to make other people happy.

    I'm always looking for feedback.

    I'm always looking to see something miraculous.

    I'm always looking for good book recommendations.

    I'm always looking for a new friend to talk about anything basically.

    I'm always looking for new ideas.

    I’m always looking for a lot of old music, weirder music - there’s this French band called Lard Free that I just found a bunch of stuff by that’s amazing.

    I'm always looking for the best deals.

    I’m always looking for something I can really get into, but recently I can’t find it.

    I'm always looking for openning doors and opportunities, I never disregard a chance.

    I'm always looking for hand made Oriental Rugs that were made before 1950, any size or condition.

    I'm always looking for another shotgun.

    I'm always looking for great quality artwork.

    I'm always looking for whole units of plain English with normative syntax.

    I'm always looking for sharp people to be in touch with.

    I’m always looking for new ways to push myself.

    I'm always looking for a vintage Bentley Blower that reads like a Stanley Mann advert: " This is the dogs dangly bits and goes like stink because the coffee is always on."

    I'm always looking for prayer warriors.

    I'm always looking at a way around the wall.

    I'm always looking for smaller equipment.

    I’m always looking for stores that have larger sizes.

    I'm always looking for odd, unusual products.

    I'm always looking for long time business and customer satisfaction.

    I'm always looking for things to steal.

    I'm always looking and always observing.

    I'm always looking to learn something new and if an advert can lead me to more information and knowledge I'm more the happier.

    I’m always looking for the better side in a person.

    I'm always looking for mis-matched meanings married more in the mode of Woody Woodpecker rather than Mickey Mouse

    I'm always looking for your face.

    I'm always looking for variations.

    I'm always looking for as well as a couple major epiphanies.

    I'm always looking for that sense of balance.

    I'm always looking for something to lead my eye through a shot.

    I'm always looking for interesting sites - not just the usual dive set up at a quarry.

    I'm always looking for the protagonist who appears to have everything in the world.

    I'm always looking for new places to visit that have steam engines.

    I'm always looking for Flarf, but in all the wrong places.

    I'm always looking and listening for an absolute voice to tell me what to do.

    I'm always looking for that combination of light and colour that will make a beautiful image.

    I'm always looking for a new approach something that shakes it up for me and keeps me interested in the next stage.

    I'm always looking for something smart and original, with a high-concept idea and a fresh voice.

    I’m always looking for something to read.

    I'm always looking for innovative legal techniques I can apply to my work.

    I'm always looking for the tweet of an eggnest to bless my nidificaction.

    I’m always looking for an easy paycheck.

    I'm always looking for parrot crackers.

    I'm always looking for the next thing.

    I'm always looking for new and interesting prototype items to add to my collection.

    I'm always looking at aspects of the black woman.

    I'm always looking for new Tom Waits bootlegs.

    I’m always looking for health in a bottle.

    I’m always looking for projects that can be shot here or edited here.

    I'm always looking for feedback on my articles - positive or negative.

    I'm always looking for cool things like that.

    I’m always looking for more puns.

    I'm always looking at typefaces too.

    I'm always looking for that little bit more.

    I'm always looking to Damien Hirst for the brittle diamonds of my skull.

    I'm always looking for some torch in the darkness.

    I'm always looking for people to drink with.

    I'm always looking through search engines to sift and sequence the sociolinguistic impact of keyboard culture flashed to screen in myriad languages.

    I’m always looking at architecture, looking through a lens of architecture.

    I'm always looking forward to a great day of storm chasing.

    I'm always looking for more information.

    I'm always looking to find the entertainment in every situation.

    I'm always looking to expand my blur collection.

    I'm always looking to find a language that will fit the actual story.

    I'm always looking for ways to do something easier and faster.

    I'm always looking for my next fix.

    I'm always looking for new chances to talk about my work and collaborate with other scientists.

    I’m always looking for a fresh sound.

    I’m always looking for some way to kick up my hummus a little.

    I'm always looking at the clock.

    I'm always looking for someone who can help to improve my English.

    I'm always looking for that extra edge.

    I’m always looking for shoes that will be comfortable all day long yet still be cute.

    I’m always looking for talented bondage photographers to work with for my website.

    I'm always looking for stories that surprise me or that lead me to places I've never been.

    I’m always looking to up the ante technically and intellectually.

    I'm always looking for new flows and rhyme schemes to exploit.

    I’m always looking over people’s shoulders on public transport to try and see what they’re listening to on their iPods.

    I'm always looking at my inbox to see if there are more surveys coming.

    I'm always looking for any form of help in any way to develop this site.

    I'm always looking to slip in the one-liner or make the smart-aleck remark that gets everyone to crack up.

    I'm always looking for the kind of basket that you won't find anywhere.

    I’m always looking to broaden my creative scope and will try my hand at anything.

    I'm always looking for ways to improve performance, control weeds and increase efficiency down to the ground.

    I'm always looking for new people to work with.

    I'm always looking for the signature motif in a song that I can utilize to punctuate the lyrics.

    I’m always looking for other ideas to relieve anxiety.

    I’m always looking to punish myself for different things in different ways.

    I'm always looking for eye contact.

    I'm always looking for comment-streams where vandals steal the handle because the dayshift ain't twenty years of schooling.

    I'm always looking at the dictionary.

    I'm always looking to define and refine what my life's purpose is (artistic and otherwise).

    I'm always looking for ways to increase the speed at which I can complete a page without compromising the quality.

    I'm always looking for an analogy to put the comparison to rest.

    I’m always looking for something new to change it up.

    I'm always looking for simpler and faster and for ways to maximize my time.

    I’m always looking at different marketing techniques to incorporate into my own business.

    I'm always looking for new projects.

    I’m always looking over my shoulder, studying the passing cars, and analyzing the shadowy silhouettes in the cloak of darkness.

    I'm always looking to expand my understanding of wine.

    I'm always looking to do my best in helping carry out the science mission on the Space Station.

    I’m always looking to compliment my percussion library.

    I'm always looking for better ways to do it.

    I’m always looking for more and more detailed information about the concreteness of sound so that when I write a note on a piece of paper it’s never abstract.

    I'm always looking for good reading on this topic.

    I'm always looking for monologues in female voices.

    I’m always looking for an excuse to go back.

    I’m always looking for a new obsession.

    I'm always looking for the next thing to fill my life.

    I'm always looking for those answers.

    I’m always looking for new things to do to channel that energy.

    I'm always looking for easier-bending acoustic strings.

    I'm always looking to improve what I have written.

    I'm always looking because I never know what might come up.

    I'm always looking to learn from codemasters.

    I'm always looking for new resources to expand my knowledge.

    I’m always looking for that.

    I'm always looking for small, subtle ways to give you more.

    I'm always looking at new yuppies for fashion advice, like izod my iphone for candyland carcrash in poetic utopia.

    I'm always looking to say things in a different way and people begin to expect a sound and then they have the nerve to get bored with you.

    I’m always looking to get the punch in and don’t realize that I’m getting hit.

    I’m always looking for the inflection point when I’m done.

    I'm always looking in the sky to see aircraft.

    I'm always looking for what's the message, what's the point, what's the purpose, what's the greater good, what's the what.

    I'm always looking for the latest stuff.

    I'm always looking for crits and comments.

    I'm always looking for fun activities to help me get outside and in better shape.

    I'm always looking for something to distract me from the realities of my day-to-day grind.

    I’m always looking for chicken recipes.

    I'm always looking to spar over politics.

    I’m always looking for mysteries, erotic romances, paranormal romances, and fantasy romances.

    I'm always looking to hire Java Developers.

    I’m always looking for a good escape.

    I'm Always looking to find different styles of graffitti to learn.

    I'm always looking for the next gig.

    I'm always looking for something to get me out of the house.

    I'm always looking at her arms.

    I'm always looking for good articles for my linkblog.

    I'm always looking to eradicate the blank space of comment-boxes with some kind of silly-ass shit.

    I'm always looking for people who can put a smile on my face.

    I'm always looking for the best handjob content on the web.

    I'm always looking for something. I'm looking for meaning in life, for metaphors to explain things to myself.

    I'm always looking for more blog widgets, bling, swag or whatever you call it.

    I'm always looking for a nice perfume.

    I'm always looking for something that's a little fresh and something that I haven't seen before.

    I'm always looking for dissenting opinions.

    I'm always looking at strange shaped trees.

    I'm always looking for like-minded people with a shared dream.

    I'm always looking for the ulterior motive.

    I'm always looking for new sources.

    I'm always looking for more goths to hang with and talk to.

    I'm always looking, looking, looking, for that perfect speed.

    I'm always looking at the sky above me.

    I'm always looking.

  68. July 13, 2009
     Andrei

    As "the archaic avatar" so brilliantly (though perhaps inadvertently?) demonstrates, the list is by now really tired as a Flarf form. It's, I don't know, like a graphic designer using a cheesy glow effect in Photoshop, kind of obvious and bespeaking very little creative effort besides pushing a couple of buttons. So, flarfistas please keep flarfing, but move away from the list...

  69. July 16, 2009
     David Schneider

    I am disappointed that the editor of POETRY MAGAZINE would set up a dichotomy of poetic form by creating a neologism ("flarf") that's ugly, useless, and seemingly derogatory as the word "blog." It will probably achieve the status of common currency, as it's been introduced in a forum large enough to disseminate itself widely; but for the world's most important poetry magazine to stoop to this level is embarrassing.

    What you call "flarf" is really: the resurgence of the '20s: Modernism, dada, surrealism, and collage collage collage, updated to hyperlinked and polyvalent multimedia intertextuality. And we who work in this form think your term is very silly.

  70. July 18, 2009
     the archaic avatar

    The list poem is another form of poetry.

    The list poem is simple and doesn't require rhyme or rhythm, so encourage your poet to change words and experiment with phrasing to the heart's content.

    The list poem is one of the simplest ways for beginners to approach the writing of free-verse poetry.

    The list poem is usually not a random list.

    The list poem is just that: a list.

    The list poem is a very old form of poetry.

    The list poem is the easiest structure of all.

    The list poem is therefore one of the oldest and most organic forms of poetry.

    The list poem is still a popular form in contemporary poetics.

    The list poem is particularly useful for students just beginning to write poetry, because its form is flexible and its content has authenticity.

    The list poem is descriptive.

    The list poem is comprehensive and well-organized, clear, and uncluttered.

    The list poem is a poetic form used by Mark Strand in his "Giving Myself Up" (1970) on his body parts.

    The list poem is easy to write and great for these everyday, not-very-poetic issues that can hold us back.

    The list poem is one of the most popular and enduring forms.

    The list poem is a genre in itself, yet often poems outside that category are list poems by any other name.

    The list poem is a brilliant way to go about this assignment because once you are freed up from narrative, it's much easier to work the assigned words.

    The list poem is a poem, which is evident to me in it's subject matter and flow.

    The list poem is a favourite style, but she also writes with a Pacific lyricism entirely her own.

    The list-poem is only one of several examples of contextual reinterpretation given by Fish, so in this section I shall briefly review the others.

    The list poem is an excellent device to get them started on writing with a favorite subject in hand.

    The list poem is often considered one of the most basic literary forms.

    The list poem is more like the poetry of contemporary lyric poet David Trinidad, or the Language poetry of Bruce Andrews, or a Burroughs/Gysin cut-up.

    The list poem is actually very popular with elementary school teachers - so is haiku - and so the forms often get dismissed as "not serious."

  71. July 20, 2009
     AMJC

    MORPHEU = lovechild of dionysous &
    Apollo --- but dont take my word 4 it:

    From political change to pocket change,
    shipments to shipwrecks, quotations to
    digital code, Alejandro Crawford never
    met a morphosis he didn't like, and
    here in these pages neither will you.
    Skipping from "omicron" to "omg" to
    "ominous gold," Morpheu cuts across
    registers from syllable to syllable,
    breaking the surface of language to
    reveal the golden (and sometime
    ominous) connections between
    postmodern assemblage and modernist
    source text (the work is based in part
    on the Brazilian/Portuguese journal
    Orpheu , which notably published the
    work of Fernando Pessoa). The text
    moves between English and
    Portuguese, and between the ecstatic
    linguistic play of Dionysian disruptions
    and the classical Apollonian concern
    with measure and a masterfully careful
    calibration of sound. Here, the two gods
    of Orpheus vie, and Crawford reveals
    that in the end, once the dust and tears
    have settled, they may merely be
    heteronyms of the same muse.
    Fragments and pathos: the stones are
    crying, the limbs tearing — remember
    the lesson of Orpheus and keep
    reading: don't, whatever you do, dare
    to look back.

    —Craig Dworkin

    http://www.blazevox.org/bk-ac....

    buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy

  72. July 21, 2009
     Arif Khan (II)

    Dear Sir,

    I'm in the midst of researching the
    nocturnal patterns of aardvarks, and so
    I don't have time to write an extensive
    response to your essay. I wish you and
    your friends the best of luck in your
    language plundering.

    In Huuu,

    Arif Khan (II)

    For Kenneth Goldsmith

    As I walked westward to the bank:
    Queen Street
    a giant, gangrened mouth devouring
    history. While
    walking on a road, I think why not “The
    Reluctant
    Fundamentalist.” I shuffled past
    Parkdale Library
    where I became emaciated. If a limit
    expands west
    or east, one imagines it is infinite.
    There is a non-
    conceptual threshold between east and
    west that
    is infinite. Hitting this point, I was
    nobody. History
    clawed away, hacked. I thought I’d
    leave my luggage
    at the sewer without a trace. Just
    vanish, walk out
    of the book like a disaster that hasn’t
    hit yet. Walk
    out of a house, shut the fucking door. I
    lay on the bed
    the spine convulsed. The tiger fled back
    into the sewer. The gods reappeared on
    the lawns.
    The neighbor watered the schoolyard.
    It was another
    night on Queen West. I was searching
    for you
    in a gallery of knives, podiums and
    prizes weaving
    seamless desires into the heart of
    language.
    Can a man be raped of desire,
    disemboweled.
    Speech blasted out of absence. Body
    stripped
    of semblance. Time expanding
    westward
    into a Harlequin Romance. There’s an
    art to killing
    yourself, you said, just as there is an
    art
    to arranging mock Pollock paintings on
    moldering
    walls. The book now behind you, you
    go to work
    and take Saturdays off. There are two
    of you now.
    You pretend you are writing a third, the
    genesis.
    First: a tiger in a pit covered over with
    plastic ferns.
    Did “The Jungle Book” create the tiger
    in the first place,
    even if it wasn’t the tiger? It was like a
    tiger trapped in a pit,
    the abscess. And if it followed you
    everywhere you wept.
    Every book seems a railway track to
    being, what of the cargo
    moving eastward. The men in the
    Junction
    reeling close to the tracks. Close the
    train curtain.
    It’s okay your landlord strangled you
    for rent. It was only
    a dream. In short, he brought you up
    pound cake. This body,
    tear it apart. He fed you with his own
    finger
    bones. Son of a cop. They’ll never hire
    you, paki.
    And I began a story many years ago
    with the words: “The tiger
    will devour you.” There might be a map
    of perception that doesn’t lie.
    You don’t want the names, only the
    words in their ghostly presences,
    reduced to their last. The self reduced
    to its brackets, persists.
    The “I” that has become the dear page
    it haunts. The one you’ve been looking
    to kill with the weight of a margin. The
    tiger trapped in a margin. Words
    snapped down like a button down shirt.
    Go to work. The spiraling abyss.
    Heaven or hell both coalescing. There is
    a magnetism to granite.
    We’re talking like fluid brothers,
    walking toward the bank machine, past
    a chalice of hoarse whispers in a room
    stripped of dust. History wends its way
    towards me. What if you wore a bomb
    suit as you left the book burning down
    Tavistock Square?
    Yesterday, I dreamt of a tiger again.
    Trapped in a pit, our body constituting
    this border that we cannot cross. This is
    where I left off. Homegrown bodies.
    The return of the barbarians. This is not
    language effect.
    How to kindle paralysis. I lay on the
    bed of the sufi. She ripped
    at all the distinct lines. Some theorist
    was proud that there was not
    a line left, but he wouldn’t zig zag
    through space. Haunting even
    myself. I was saying ‘invent yourself
    out of a knowledge flux
    before it has made an incision in flesh,
    before it has reached
    the point of forward.’ There is a
    metaphysical truth
    to this statement that is evasive. There
    is a point that blasts
    the time of history. When Red becomes
    brown the lines of the body
    were pulled away, the body started to
    move in many directions at once.
    It was 1989, the end of the Cold War. It
    was starting to warm up.
    Fanon once said: a race of angels. This
    is the spell the gods are under. The
    sigh of the oppressed. I wanted to meet
    you, dine with you: Let’s get together
    with your wife and son. Formlessness
    is out of style, the avant-gardists say.
    Did you have a form, Sid? We passed
    by the gallery
    stripped down to bare walls. We passed
    the boutiques.
    We passed the tool shed with its poetry
    tools to fashion award-
    winning poetry. We frolicked in the
    sandbox with the avant-gardists.
    We pretended that technology eclipsed
    an ever expanding self.
    Where is the evidence that you are
    speaking in the video they left.
    Googling your horoscope, it said. St.
    Augustine might have been
    right about one thing. There is no
    evidence that the stars
    blew out of their sockets. Are the stars
    ‘homegrown’
    in the sky. Why this cold blast from
    nowhere. There is no
    evidence that there was a word you
    said before. An excess.
    They wanted to know you, “a mystery,”
    whatever
    leave me the fuck out of it. I want to be
    alone, now.
    You clamor around me with their dread.
    They have dressed you up in gray
    music. After Parkdale
    library, stories staggered and
    collapsed.
    After I became the mouth devouring
    myself. I walked
    home disgusted with myself. I burned
    my avant garde
    poetry books on the side of the road.
    K.Silem Mohammad
    and all the other hypocrites went up
    into flame. D
    was hanging onto the door handle. You
    know when a house
    becomes a tornado. A homeless Polish
    security guard spraying my cologne in
    his arm pits. Some voodoo
    spell, some sun god in the sky,
    remembering the days
    before the Gardner strangled the
    lakefront and the parasols
    fled, the poor by the Gardner, and then
    the north frontier
    erected in Victorian houses: language
    edge, they said.
    The landlord kicked him out. And I went
    to lake searching
    for this place. Ran over the bridge
    around Jameson
    through the webs. Found those corpses
    baking in the sun,
    the fish. Sid, there’s no place where
    we can meet, in the video
    you said. I’m writing you this love letter
    nonetheless.
    As you rise from the primal violence.
    Have you become
    the quake ripping through the spine,
    tearing through sinews of flesh?

  73. July 21, 2009
     rainshine

    Flarf is just fluff--updated Surrealist collage poems. But these modern internet exquisite corpses do not necessarily produce good poetry just because they use the Net. I would say the ones here, as in most of those from the past, are derivative, uninspired and instantly forgettable.

  74. July 24, 2009
     the archaic avatar

    in the past, it was the past.

    pens & papers & pens & papers.

    the past shall remain the past unless the past catches up, which is unlikely.

    in a galaxy far far awry, there once was a past of passing, stormtrooper bump the heads, vader space always on go, monopoly monies buy nothin' but boardgames.

    the game, so to speak, is never in the past; the pawns & playpieces are passed on.

    there's no future like the past.

    it was only yesterday.

    to-morrow ain't nothin' todays yesterday.

    stop the clocks, this hammers got cuckoo like swissmiss 'n marshmallows.

    if the poetry of the past stands up for us today in the present, then fuck yrself 'cause ain't nothin' not no now 'cept neoneo & that shit done broke boxoffice.

    one ticket.

    i suffer from Schwitters' Syndrome; bend down to grab the rubbish, a residual energy, the archeology of sociology : th same is true for th internetz.

    if i concieve, am i conceptual?

    the past is my past & the past is your past, all our passings shall be a beautiful death in the noiseless vacuum of robots living forever.

    the next avant wave will be post-robotic.

    we are already there,
    or haven't y'all noticed
    the past,
    always passing,
    an endless gutterball
    comin' up strikes for
    lucky 'cause LS/MFT
    or L.F.D.Y as always,
    remember?
    James Dean
    550 Spyder,
    toiletpaper
    daddypoem,
    we all hate
    our maker,

    unmake it.

  75. August 1, 2009
     Andy Mellon

    The First Hundred

    The of and a to in is you,
    that it he was, for on are as.
    With his, they, I at be this have,
    from or one had, by word, but not....
    What all were we, when your can said?
    There, use an each, which she do how.
    Their if will up, other about
    out many, then them these, so some.
    Her would make like him into time;
    Has look, two more! Write. Go see.
    Number? No way! Could people?
    My than first water been call,
    who oil its now find long down day,
    did get, come made, may part.

  76. August 14, 2009
     zero

    taking text from the internet to create
    text to post on the internet... isn't that
    like feeding beef to cows? can't wait to
    see what happens...
    I am
    illiterate
    lazy
    uncreative
    unoriginal
    worthless
    meaningless
    and now can write freely
    no original thought
    no language
    no meaning
    no soul
    no future as long as can be
    remembered
    nothing more than a concept
    trawling for words to put together in
    order to find
    original thought
    new language
    new meaning
    new soul
    new futures so the past can be
    forgotten
    now that’s a concept

  77. August 24, 2009
     Marlin

    Did this feature article receive more responses than any other? Seriously, thats a lot comment. Provocative.

  78. September 6, 2009
     aliengape

    nice hat, goldsmith.

  79. September 16, 2009
     Shallow Eyes

    I've looked at all of the text before me.

  80. September 24, 2009
     Jeffrey Side

    Kenny, you still haven't responded to my comment on a previous post elsewhere on this blog, regarding statements in your interview with Dale Smith. In that comment I said: 'I was rather perplexed to see Kenny so supportive of the idea that anything should go in poetry, yet admit that UbuWeb is not a democracy and that he decides “what goes there”, and that: “99% of what is submitted is not accepted. But that’s why it’s so good. The bar is set very high according to Ubu’s standards, which are quite rigorous.” Yet, I wonder what criteria are brought into play when deciding what is the best of “anything should go”, or arbitrarily collaged texts etc. I suppose, there isn’t one, and that it is all personal taste.' Until you address this, I can't take you seriously.

  81. October 13, 2009
     James Westwood

    Everyones a poet.

  82. October 16, 2009
     Mr Donutsu

    Well I don't need to remind such a big fan of "anything should go" about Pierre Menard, Author of the "Quixote", then do I? In a pattern analogous to the infinite monkey theorem, Menard begs the question that any of us can do the same - as can printing presses and photocopiers. Indeed, we are told, if infinitely many angels of rigorous standards hit keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time one would eventually produce a replica of Quixote's giant windmill itself. That replica, Menard maintains, would be as much an instance of the work, Don Quixote, as are any other arbitrary collaged texts themselves.

  83. February 23, 2011
     Shaftflex

    Hey, I'm writing my MA on Flarf and I still
    have some doubts whethet we can call
    Kenneth a Flarfist? He edited some of their
    works but has he really made some flarfy
    works? Thanks in advance for help!

  84. March 3, 2011
     Kenneth Goldsmith

    Sorry - Kenneth doesn't really exist. So, I
    guess that means that no, he wasn't a
    Flarfist. Thanks for asking!

  85. March 4, 2011
     Kenneth Goldsmith

    Wait a minute. If Kenneth Goldsmith is
    writing this, doesn't that mean he - I mean
    I - wait, wait. It's all so confusing!

  86. August 2, 2013
     The former president

    Okay, but how does this make life more livable?