Friday, March 28, 2008

Catching Up on the Blog 5: Flarf

A week ago today a group of Flarfists that included Gary Sullivan, Nada Gordon, Mel Nichols and Rod Smith gave a reading at Big Orbit Gallery. As it was on the eve of the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, attendance was high - probably near 50 at the peak. It was a fun reading. I think what makes Flarf effective is its complete rejection of poetic decorum when it comes to vocabulary and subject matter. Words like "pooner," "pussy," and "fart" float freely alongside "love," "longing" and "languorous," while poems about Grandma's labia bump up against quotations by Marianne Moore without ever acknowledging a difference in kind. A kind of ecstatic freedom defines the flarf reading, the constant pleasure of surprise, of not ever knowing what to expect and dying to find out. Going home to read Farfist texts I'd been given -- Gordon's Folly, Sullivan's PPL in a Depot, and K. Silem Mohammed's Breathalyzer -- reveals all is not fun and games. In a pleasing counterpoint to the irreverence and downright silliness of Flarf vocabulary and content, one finds on the page poems that are extremely well put-together --or dare I say, crafted. Some even use rhyme and meter to unique and interesting effect. Anyhow, it was great to hear and an equal pleasure to read. I look forward to more of it.

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