Free Verse: The Flarf Collective

The 21st century has been a bit of a disappointment so far. We were supposed to have flying cars by now, and robot sidekicks. This new-ish millennium has, however, provided at least one new literary movement: It has given us flarf, a form of poetry that takes its name from the title of a Gary Sullivan poem, "Flarf Balonacy Swingle," and takes its raw material from Google searches involving wildly different terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "exquisite + corpse." A poem is created by cutting and pasting words from the search results page (none of the website links are followed). The flarf aesthetic is irreverent, inappropriate, and deliberately discomforting. At least one literature professor has been denied tenure for supporting it. It is a poetry of divining from the entrails of the world wide web, preserving all the slang and messy syntax of its source material, and it is coming to Minneapolis. Poetic provocateurs Nada Gordon, Sharon Mesmer, K. Silem Mohammed, and Gary Sullivan (who defines "flarf" the noun as "a kind of corrosive, cute, or cloying awfulness," "flarf" the verb as "to bring out the inherent awfulness, etc., of some pre-existing text," and "flarfy" the adjective as "something akin to 'campy,' but with somewhat different resonances. More awkward, stumbling, 'wrong' than camp") will all come together to perform their wickedly entertaining works of Google-sculpture.
Thu., Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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