Sunday, October 5, 2008

Poetry Scandal

I'm incredibly busy today, but I have to weigh in on the Issue 1 debate (Kenneth Goldsmith was first to post about it here) even if in less thought-out form than I'd like, mainly because one of its creators is now miserable and wants to pull the work off the internet. I support the work they've done in programming here, and their funny, whisker-pulling approach to e-poetry. They produced an algorithm-based impossible-to-print book (though, if anyone would like to print it out, I'd love to see a copy). The poems are not pirated. People's names were used, and even then in an arbitrary fashion, so that, as Ron points out, some people who are not even self-identified poets are included in the anthology. The most intelligent response to all the anger generated is by Nada Gordon, whose comments are posted at Ron Silliman's blog. I agree with her, and she defines the issue better than I ever could. Ron Silliman is angry, sort of, but I am not. Yes, I am included, and no, the poem is not mine, but it does have a a higher amount of "noun X and noun Y" clauses than other poems, which makes me feel that more than my name was entered into the algorithm that generated the poems. My only full-length collection of poems is entitled Roofing and Siding. I enjoyed the "project" of Issue 1, and skimming through the "book". Those who are angered by it should cool down and see it for what it is: a hoax, an architecture built out of the electronic public sphere and placed back into it to give part of its writing community a chance to do a double-take. Nobody needs to get sued over this. And for the people most upset, they should realize I never knew their names before this, but now I do, and can look forward to reading their works on their own terms, and not feel that anything appearing in Issue 1 reflects their achievement as poets. Anyone angered about the way we do and do not "own" our names can ask me all about it, because I've spent many a wasted moment in my life dealing with stupid people expecting me to laugh with them about my own name. I have more than a few examples to offer proving we don't have ownership over our names.

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