Friday, July 31, 2009

Flarf

Poets & Writers has an article this month about Flarf.

Flarf is a style of poetry that has a surrealist feel to it. Basically it is good poets trying to make bad poetry by using techniques like pulling random phrases from Google searches and riffing off each other's bad lines of poetry.

It started out as a joke--a poet submitting an intentionally bad poem to a vanity poetry anthology scam:
Yeah, mm-hmm, it's true
big birds make
big doo! I got fire inside
my 'huppa'-chimp(TM)
gonna be agreessive, greasy aw yeah god
wanna DOOT! DOOT!
Pffffffffffffffffffffffffft! hey!
-- Gary Sullivan

Soon Sullivan's poet friends joined the fun. And, according to the article, a funny thing happened:
Their poems evolved from "bad" to "sort of great," Gardner says. "What we were really doing was throwing out rules that were constraining and ridiculous and weren't fitting anymore. Once we did that, we could do whatever we wanted—we weren't trying to ask: Is this magazine going to like this? Is this poet going to like this? Is my teacher going to like this? We just got rid of all of it and went nuts."
[via kottke]

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