E-poetry 2007 Paris Cellfone Video Documentary Extravaganza

First of all, let me point in brief to networked_performance for Simon Biggs’ very good report on the E-poetry 2007 Festival in Paris. I agreed with him that Robert Simanowski’s close reading of “Listening Post” was probably the best of the academic papers presented during the conference. I was also a fan of Jim Carpenter’s presentation, in which he talked in a clear and pragmatic way about best practices for writing good code for epoetry, including distributing source code so that others can learn from it. Carpenter recently released a new version of his poetry engine, which will write some pretty good poems for you. There were many other papers and panel discussions as well, though this festival was primarily about the poetry. For four nights in a row, there were three to four hours of poetry readings. The E-Poetry scene is much more performance-oriented than other venues for electronic writing, and some of the performances were much more video art or performance (for example one work allegedly about the objectification of women included the performer disrobing on stage — providing the Festival with an early controversy, which all such gatherings require) than they were electronic writing as it is usually understood. That was fine with me. Overall, I appreciated my first experience of this very vibrant scene that exists between visual, conceptual, performance, computer, and writing. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet many writers I have worked with and communicated with extensively online in person, in addition to spending time with old friends in one of the world’s great cities. Rather than a more formal report, I offer you this cellphone video extravaganza — short clips of 30 seconds to a minute of many readings from the festival. Forgive the quality — it was my phone used in dark crowded rooms filled with poets drinking in the poetry, after all.


A Brazilian epoet setting fire to her poems onstage, a la Jimi Hendrix.
Continue reading

Po-Ex — Portuguese EPoetry

After a late night of epoetry readings in a smokefilled theater in Montmartre (more on that later) and the excess you’d expect, after getting lost in St. Denis (I think I wandered into one of the neighborhoods where they set cars on fire during the riots), I finally found my way to Auditorium X and have witnessed a few panels here at Paris 8. Just a quick note: Pedro Reis (of Fernando Pessoa University) gave a presentation on an upcoming publication, a collection of epoetry in Portuguese which will be published both online and on CD-ROM, the Po-Ex project.

Thing 14: Valentine

Valentine

Valentine suffered from an unfortunate
archery accident when she was 15 years
old that severed the external pterygoideus
muscle on her left cheek and left her
with a slight tic for the rest of her
days. Her parents were simple folk who
thought it would be a good idea, kind
of clever, to name her after the day
she was born. Every year for her birthday
she got chocolates and a dozen red roses.
She grew to hate roses, eventually. Though
she grew fond of orchids, and she never lost
her taste for fudge. Her friends call her
Val. She is a native of St. Petersburg,
Florida and somewhat militantly against
matchmaking. She doesn’t like to get
involved in other people’s relationships.
She says people should make
their own mistakes.

She has a kind of funny
smile, a strange dimple
seen at happy hour when
someone tells a dirty joke. She
appreciates the audacity of
poor taste, though she never
laughs out loud.

Valentine drinks dry martinis, never the kind
of syrupy pink concoctions with umbrellas
or assorted fruits some others throw
down. She sells life insurance but she’s
not what you call a soft touch. She avoids
the phrase “loved ones” and talks to you
straight about aging and
death, her long fingers
finding your place on
the actuarial table.
She’s good at what
she does, and no
nonsense.

Thing 13: On the Moon

On the Moon

Our residence on the moon
is completely sustainable.
If you look closely you can
see the glint of our reflective
solar panels just to the side
of Copernicus, if you squint.
In our hydroponic farm we grow
heirloom tomatoes of many
varieties: Oxheart, Dixie Golden
Giant, Yellow Brandywine, Mandarin
Cross, and Green Zebra, just to
name a few. We reuse everything
on the moon, but the food is
quite tasty. Nothing smells like
piss at mealtime. I’ll confess
I’d kill for a tender sirloin
but we can do a lot of things
with legumes on the moon. We
get all of the channels on the
satellite, and what we can’t
get there we download off the
internet. There is no such thing
as piracy on the moon. Many things
are legal on the moon. Harry and
Frank got married just last week
and we threw them a big party.
Well, a big party for the moon.
They get the same benefits as
everyone else on the moon. We
have a lot of cool robots and
plenty of time for our hobbies
and one cat who’s a bit skittish
and a handball court in addition
to the elliptical trainer and the
treadmill here on the moon. Earth
rise is so beautiful, darling, though
the nights are very long on the
moon. Burn a fire tonight, if you can.
I’ll try to spot it with the
telescope. I’ll just pretend
if I can’t. I miss you
here
on the moon.

Thing 12: Birds Have Names

Birds Have Names

Another helicopter is falling from the sky,
delicate things, these whirling birds of prey.
These Black Hawks and Sea Knights have colorful
names: EZ 40, Tarantula 26, Big Gun 72, Crazy
Horse 08. Do surface to air missiles also have
names? What about bombs? Little Boy and Fat
Man sound like cartoon characters with awful
teeth. Nagasaki would have been spared were it
not for a change in the weather. The ground
is no better than the air for moving troops,
supplies, and weapons. Are fire and water
equally dangerous elements? Do car bombs also have
names? Another 80 people dead in Baghdad. Why
is it even more disturbing to read that the
warehouse stored a great deal of clothing
mannequins, which were scattered on the floor,
in thick pools of blood? Real limbs scattered
among false ones? Do window dressers name
their mannequins, or do they simply say “this
one, that one over there”? Is God really all
that great? How many mannequins were produced
worldwide last year? Would we notice if 34,452
of them were destroyed? Would we care? What if
every person killed in Iraq since the start
of the war got their own mannequin, with its
own special place in the Washington mall, and
its own name, its own little history? How long
is 34,452 moments of silence? How long until the
first cough? What if we forget
to breathe? When did you
stop counting?

Thing 11: The Boy in the Bubble

The Boy in the Bubble

the boy in the bubble wears lavender
suede shoes, a blue serge suit, and
a ruffled white shirt, pirate-style.
you can watch him on his webcam, pay
per view. he’s flamboyant and he plays
keyboards better than elton john. sometimes
the boy in the bubble does card tricks.
the boy in the bubble is now 38 years
old and quite wealthy. he writes pilot
episodes of situation comedies and
scenarios for reality shows, often
based on the short stories of franz
kafka. the boy in the bubble eats
canned egg-free cakes. his favorite
flavor is chocolate. the boy in the
bubble is allergic to the world but
in love with its media. the boy in
the bubble has asked that his bubble
be surrounded by high definition
plasma television screens. the boy in
the bubble has wireless internet access
and a personal assistant whom he
sometimes treats poorly. the boy in
the bubble has mood swings and no
one can blame him. the boy in the
bubble sucks his thumb while he watches
danish pornography. the boy in the bubble
has never known a woman’s touch. the boy
in the bubble has several girlfriends on
IRC, in south carolina, darwin, australia,
and somewhere in finland. the boy in the
bubble has a massage chair that brings him
pleasure. the boy in the bubble knows most
of the dialog from the star wars films
by heart. the boy in the bubble likes the
music of kiss, ac/dc, and shostakovich. the
boy in the bubble listens to the fifth
over and over again. the boy in the bubble
owns time-shares in miami, aspen, and napa.
the boy in the bubble rents them out for
profit. the boy in the bubble has given up
on the space suit. it gave him an awful
cold and he nearly died. there is no cure.
the boy in the bubble has significant
investments in chinese insurance companies
and canadian oil sands. certain smells make
the boy in the bubble weep. the boy in the
bubble writes star trek slash fan fiction.
in the darkness, while he sleeps, the boy
in the bubble feels just the same. now he
rocks himself, gently, the boy in the bubble
rocks himself to sleep.

Thing 10: After Dream Dialog

After Dream Dialog

-I dreamed I was in prison
what prison?
-it was like a prison on TV
american?
-probably
what were the charges?
-I’m not sure
like on what show?
-I don’t know don’t interrupt
sorry
-you were a guard
I don’t like where this is going
-no you were pretending to be
a correctional officer?
-to break me out
did I sneak in like a file, or?
-I’m not sure
did it work?
-we were just talking I’m not
I’m mean I’m sure I’d try
-you hadn’t yet
I’d work something out
-it was bad in there
like bad in what way
-the people
the people were what criminals?
-yeah
mean?
-that’s right
well I’d try, I mean I might
-you might?
I might hire a lawyer first
-you wouldn’t come and save me?
well I would, love, but gunplay
-you’d break me out, wouldn’t
gunplay’s not my forte
-you wouldn’t, would you?
I’d try baby, I’d try
-in my dream you were going to
I’d negotiate or whatever
-hmmmmm
coffee?

Thing 9: Winter in the North

Winter in the North

She makes an ice stew for breakfast
and serves it in a porcelain bowl
while wicked winter wind whips
through windowpanes loosely glazed.

The further north you go
it seems
the further north there is
to serve as a point of reference,
to make it seem less cold.

Though I feel a chill in my
bones, it is colder in Trondheim,
and in Trondheim it is warmer than
in Tromsø (the south of the North)
where when speak of up north they
mean Hammerfest and beyond. Hammer
festers will begrudgingly admit they
reside to the south of Longyearbyen,
where no one thinks they live south
of anywhere, except for the North
Pole. While there is no permafrost
in Hammerfest, Longyearbyen has
plenty of tundra. Students there
carry firearms in case of polar
bear attack. Mørktid is long and
to work in the coal mines there
one must have a good work ethic
and a sense of irony. Begrudge
them not their sealskin boots,
Southerners.

While -5° Celsius is cold in
Bergen, back home in Chicago,
it is currently -16° Celsius,
which is balmy in comparison to
the -35° Celsius in Jyvaskyla.
That is quite cold. At the
North Pole, the instruments
are frosted over. Who knows?

Not so bad
here,
not so bad.

Tend to your glassy pavement.
The oldsters slip and fall,
crack and break,
walk no more.

The glaciers are melting,
the polar cap shrinks,
and polar bears living in zoos
in warm climates turn green
from the algae that grows in
their translucent hair.
Someday we will miss long
cold nights and things that stay
frozen year-round.

Nevertheless, on mornings like this
I feel that Eliot was a
well-insulated dope.
April has nothing
on February for
cruelty.

Thing 8: My Dead

This week I’m starting a new theme for my create-a-thing-a-day project: Poems from Bed. I’m going to try to come up with the first line of a poem before I get out of bed in the morning and finish it before the end of the day. Here’s the first one.

My Dead

Sometimes my dead
get carried away.
They wake me
(inappropriately)
in the night
and appear in
strange groupings
never seen in life.
My grandmother for
instance would have
never hung around
with the kid who
bullied me at Carson
Park who hung himself
in jail before he turned
twenty-one but there you
have it.

My dead are never
frightening. Is that
strange? I think not.
Ghosts either comfort
or sadden the living.
In spite of all the
bad press, the dead
only terrorize killers.
The dead are indelible,
parenthetical, implicit.
The dead have all the
time in the world for
you now.

My dead of course are
not alive, I don’t mean
to confuse you, they are
dead as doornails (a phrase
that has always confused
me for reasons I haven’t
time to explain). The dead
are dead as dead can be but
the past isn’t dead as you
well know by now. Your
dead are more real to you
than any of your possessions.
That’s not of course to
say that you own your dead
in fact they are a kind of
communal property that
you possess no more than
the next dreamer. True
figments demand that you
share them.

The dead are not cold,
most of the dead, in my
experience are in fact quite
warm. They smell of split
pea soup, peppermint candy,
rhubarb pie, whiskey,
marijuana, and after
shave. The dead are
mostly pleasant all in
all. Sometimes my dead
embrace me, and I hug
them back.

My dead are wagging a
finger at me now, for
I sleep too long and
they understand the
importance of the day
in ways that I cannot.
My dead remind me that
one day like the dinosaurs
I will decompose and
become fuel that others
will use for their transportation
needs and to heat
their cold living
flesh. You only get one
trip, one chance
to burn.

3by3by3 Poetry

Acts of Hypertension

Betty Ford blinked, lucky her, tears role.
Voting soon began with cardiovascular anticipation.
Counting stoic countdown, marriage, became old.

Moderate physicians officially called mortality old.
Bush in internal confusion changes his filtered role.
Next House hypertensive from regime change anticipation.

Yet men just blitz their emotional stopwatch anticipation,
To risk change, address alcoholic drinks. Cathedral old
Washington diagnosed to end, its service a memorial role.

–Scott Rettberg

I just contributed the above poem to Lance Newman’s 3by3by3, an excellent constrained writing, Google-driven poetry project. The constraint of the project is as follows: Pick 3 stories from Google News. Using only words that occur in the first few paragraphs of each story, make a poem with 3 stanzas, 3 lines each, no more than 60 characters per line. The 3-word title should use a word from each story.

On the same newsday that your 3 stories were published, send your poem to 3by3by3blog (at) gmail (dot) com. Include links to your 3 stories. The above is a “wee sestina.”

In addition, Newman suggests “Blue Plate Specials,” additional constraints for each day of the week.

Electronic Literature (a poem for autostart)



you procreate outsit nick you raffle
you boycott you irrigate
explore I befound you layer control
accelerate chuck
mindmeld
you photocopy
you green thought
you green shade you cram
you cram
you you intern
you cigar
you twitch
you liquidate
twitch
strangling the wind
I reproduce
I declaim you scribble
rephrase
disdain
mary had to make a phone call
but she left the dogs
I can show a little behind the scenes
of what we did last night
what did I just plug into
(moaning)
head
set?
or
computers only go down
so
as you might expect the first step
can you see it
you’ve seen it three layers
video
we turned off the lights
I calibrate
one side of my face
the same intrigue
take the resolution
down
sort of a simmmmmmum
resolution
a readin looks for a text file
a particular name
listening to the voice
running
sound environment
machine
middle layer
anna simple
simple as you might
expect
external
revision process
launch, choose, layer
I guess
that’s not right
you know why
well
let’s turn
this off
I can point this
I can run
my hand in front of this
people start sort of
playing pushing
editing the system
quick behind
the scenes
written in feed
nobody gets anything but mead
easier to add in other machines
my site works that way
holds and grabs that
composing poems
technique and algorithms
it posterizes
it is
not really
doing color
light and dark
particularly light
section shows
the lightest text
read through
we worked it down
to three
the darkest could be nothing
a blind screen
a chair
a microphone
a camera
hey try this
the time it
actually takes
it may take you
a while
death is nothing
compared to this
the distribution
xeroxing
this isn’t something
you compose
you can’t distribute this
how many people
would argue
that people read
the reading of
the reading
logos in space
I had to scrape the
screen
the christmas
of the original
the binary
resistant
the margins
generating
our interests
the neologisms happen
in the middle
we see the torment
a side (issue)
you create a language
dormant explore huge ambient effective
focusing
the disembodied
voices reading
the arm twists
the knees angled
processing
the smell of dessert
apple pastry
naturally speaking
innovation
most people never make
a shale of heroes
never worn
shit ASCII statue is a good science
fiction
the number of folks is dwindling
I and I
crawled up to you
is there a video game
controller in the house
bring me tron
ream
appropriations weren’t just
boring
awful lot
the shading inbetween
Xrated
500pagewordpoem
give me you
our EL
blue one
let me
plug you in
acceleration, tron is in tron
machine
not loading
not loading
sorry there’s a big X
plug in lady
em er el slash dee how dot com blue
thing
it takes
a couple
seconds fuck
writing
I can’t really see
the screen
there’s something enfolding
an installation a purple thing
this
is good
two players playing
a new text book
recombining
into vogue
we have
new text
get the entry high
enough
playing reading piece of
literature
footlong physics letters
hanging
about thirty recombined
all about issues of
transparency surveillance
how we see squishing bladdery
morning
gravity processing components
softee prose nice stuff contributions
fruits of people
green man physical communication
devices netblessing
googling the eyes
click click prototyping
much nicer qualm model
I fucked this multiplayer shrapnel
you’ve made it
subversion
get new text
measley
how do you shower gurglings
onto shadowversions
that don’t exist
gaussian blurge
this is the beginning of the beginning
for me
bizarre lighting underground lockbox
bending the apples
is nearly impossible
they snapped
laborious placing
not the most fun
abstract sound offensive
large structure with every single node
you get the same effect
from walking around it
the user uses program programmatically
a little bit more every time a little bit more
give me just a little more
time
there is a kind of twitching
around the mouse
skipping frames
the soldiers try desperately
single words flip by
you can read the words

Poetic and Strange

It must be national poetry month. In addition to Nick Montfort’s foray into deforestation this morning my email included note of two other strange poetic projects. William Gillespie at Spineless Books announced that to celebrate Charles Fourier’s 234th birthday and the first birthday of Joshua Corey’s Fourier Series, the winner of the Fitzpatrick-O’Dinn Award For Best Book Length Work of Constrained English Literature (2005), there has been an update to the Fourier Series web suite to include recordings of the author reading (recorded in the offices of Burning Deck Press), a PDF excerpt of the book’s inventive layout, and Fourier Electronique, a ten-minute MP3 poetry remix. The MP3 is haunting, western, and linguistically interesting, well worth a listen. Ken Tompkins also passed along a link to The Fib, a poetic form based on the Fibonacci sequence: a 20 syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8. Although others, including Paul Braffort, have experiemented with the famous pattern before, this seems like a fun form to try on a plane, shortly before bed, or to inflict on one’s students in an Art, Games and Narrative course.

Texts for Objects in the Writers’ House Kitchen (Draft)

Nick and I did some serious work on a draft of a forthcoming concrete writing project late last night.

Song for a Spoon

o i ddnt mn go

Requiem for a Fork

      o o o twist
    o o
  o o o o o exist
o o o 
o o o o o o cease
o o o 
  o o o o o below
    o o
      o o o sadly

On the Surface of a Knife

May you slice more than
you jab and may your edge always
be sharper than the flesh you meet
as you descend into memories

Collander Holes

     o i o u i u
  o i u o i u o i
 u o i u o i o i u
o i u i i i i u o i
 u o i u o i u o i
  u o i u o i u o
   i u o i u o i

Corkscrew Soliloquy

    someone
       one's um
          won some
 um, sm  un-sum
     summon

Tea Infuser Canto

Wet
Parts
Diff
Use
Dry
Stews
Tea
Me

Spork Song

Foodig
Meating
Yumastication

Garlic Crusher

You die now
souls souls souls
souls souls souls
Uncontested

Spatula

flip flip flip flip
pilf pilf pilf pilf
turn turn turn turn
nrut nrut nrut nrut
form form form form
mrof mrof mrof mrof
sear sear sear sear
raes raes raes raes

Ice Cream Scoop Reflexive

hey
are you
serving others
or yourself alone
as you dip into
this mass
now

Blender

Before you turn me on:

1) Find today’s newspaper.
2) Read a headline with a contradictory emotion.
3) Read an obituary in the mode of Sports.
4) Read local news with a French accent.
5) Read sports in the mode of Obituary.
6) Spit on the ground and wipe it up.
7) Renounce your citizenship.
8) Disagree with the drink.
9) Call last call.
10) Blend.

Coffee-Maker Prose Poem

There is time. This is the time. Just rest. Well. Fill the filter. That is what
it is there for. You must have coffee. Assuming. This is the nature. Careful planning. Morning. Assuming. You have rinsed the pot. Preparations. A basket. Ground beans. Preparations. A day. An afternoon. And end to an evening. Coffee.

A Turkey Baster

I assure you that this baster has been
used for nothing but its proscribed
purpose, the basting of a dead bird’s
fat upon itself. Many people have bad
and false impressions about this baster.
These myths are completely untrue. It
has not been used for anything unsavory.

Words for Coffee Cups

Editor
Scrivener
Bastard
Malcontent
Plagarist
Secret
Longing
For Words
Onomatopoeia
Wounded
Confessional
Fraud
Lack

Words for Saucers

Assholes
Sychophants
Saints
Luminaries
Breast-fed
Lonelyhearts
Players
Groupies
Chimeras
Undiscovered
Porn stars
Wallflowers

On the Outside of a Cereal Bowl

Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time

On the Outside of a Cereal Bowl

You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin

On the Outside of a Cereal Bowl

I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not

On the Outside of a Cereal Bowl

This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurt

Reamer

Fruit yields. Twisting. Turgid anecdotes
giving it up. Threatening more than the sharpened
ones of metal. Into it. Represplendent.

Egg Timer

The life of the party. Casual.
Almost as much of a dandy
as Warhol. Whatever. The eggs
can be timed, crystal digital
appearance there. Tick whenever.

Cookie Tray

Oh fuck oh fuck fuck glistening heat
once more more clatterling throwaway
more. Can you can can can fuck once oh.

Outside of a Frying Pan

I leave here as my last will and testament the terms of the disposal of my estate, to my best beloved my second best

Meat Thermometer

too much information

Paring Knife

Lovers should carve together.

Matchbook Cover

She left me
I left him
He left me
I left him
Joan of Arc

Phrases for Cutting Board

Vegetables have no souls
I’ll show you
Decentered
Precision
Not too small
Chunky
We weep
Fowl
A proper burial
Honor, Strength, Decency
Herbs rule

Paper Towel Roll

How bout a
yeah what about it
you wanna
one of the
sure how you gonna
go ahead sure
yeah there you go

Pitcher

jug jug jug
jug jug jug jug
jug jug
jug jug jug
jug jug jug
jug

Masher

potato
apt too
poo tat
op o tao
tatoo p

Poacher

Et tu?

Snowball/Avalanche

Snowball/Avalanche
(White Phosphorus)

O manufacturing
we transcendent
let illusionary
burn phosphorus
white hazardous
damage chemical
effects effects
chemical damage
hazardous white
phosphorus burn
illusionary let
transcendent we
manufacturing O

35 Scooter, 20 C * 3

35 Scooter

You oxen, whet, spark hole
of magic, jived. Boo! Quiz:
You see politician who care?
Vex me: joke, quag, zip!
Feed bag of lies to
Our media; quick jab hope.
Ax view of yon zoo.

My 35th birthday conincided with “Fitzmas,” the indictment of Scooter Libby and the confirmation of a deeply troubling culture of corruption in the White House. This 35 word response is based on the 20 consonant poem structure as follows:

yxnwhtsprkhlfmgcjbdqz
ysptcnwhcrvmjkqgzpfdb
gflstrmdqckjbhpxvwynz

S+G7, Dickinson After Queneau

V

Birmingham! the great city is over!
Cinema has recovered the lots;
Comments gone down together
Into the boiling home.

Ring, for the scant figures!
Toll, for the bonnie lyrics,—
Home and couple and programs,
Spinning upon the sciences!

How music will tell the accessories
When vacation shakes the show,
Till the families ask, “But the comments?
Did music come back no more?”

Then an essence suffuses the library,
And a softness the teller’s institute
And the families no further question,
And only the performances reply.

Original

V

GLEE! the great storm is over!
Four have recovered the land;
Forty gone down together
Into the boiling sand.

Ring, for the scant salvation!
Toll, for the bonnie souls,—
Neighbor and friend and bridegroom,
Spinning upon the shoals!

How they will tell the shipwreck
When winter shakes the door,
Till the children ask, “But the forty?
Did they come back no more?”

Then a silence suffuses the story,
And a softness the teller’s eye;
And the children no further question,
And only the waves reply.

The modified poem is a result of applying to Emily Dickinson’s original the Oulipian S+7 method described by Raymond Queneau, with the modification of substituting the seventh substantive to appear subsequent to the word in Google search results rather than in a dictionary.