Today online literary journal Unlikely Stories published three of my poems: “Donut Economics,” “Squirrel Tag,” and “Looking Out for Birdman.” You can read them here.
I should note that “donut economics” is actually a thing. I took the title from a book by Kate Raworth that I saw where I work. I didn’t actually read the book, as the title was evocative enough for me. But I probably should read it, as it’s apparently a guide to progressive economics, which is one of my concerns in my work: “In Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth, we see that markets are inefficient and growth is not the holy grail . . . there are hard limits to what you can do to the planet”–taken from the blurb for her TedTalk video on YouTube, which you can watch here.
Angry Old Man is one of the best online journals out there for experimental words and images. AOM issue #5 was just released, filled with great contributions from the international avant garde poetry scene. I’m pleased that several of my works are included: three text poems from my “robot language” series–“Paradise in a Pill,” “This is What We Know,” and “Your Body Is Waiting”–plus five video stills that represent part of an alien asemic alphabet. You can view the images here, and read the poems here
The texts form part of a new series of experiments inspired by the Facebook AI units that recently developed their own language using English words with different syntax and meaning. The AI units were intended to carry out customer service transactions and negotiations, and the format of their language seems to be a powerful way to confront and manipulate the continuous stream of commercial messages invading our mental space. I’ve written more about this work here.
Each of these three pieces were initiated by phrases contained in spam emails that seemed evocative of something more mysterious or sinister…like something a robot would say when addressing an audience of meatbags.
The Five-Two is a weekly poetry journal focusing on works about crime. My poem “Ice Cream Uber Alles” is the featured piece for this week. There’s also a clip of me reading the poem. You can read and listen here.
The Winter 2018 issue of Rat’s Ass Review has just been released, featuring a large assortment of poems on everyday subjects in plain language. The authors are arranged alphabetically, which is the only reason my work sits at the top; two of my poems made the cut: “Trailing the Blues” and “That Was My First Wife.” You can read them here.
I should note that while “Trailing” was based on a real person I saw in a liquor store one day (while adding to my rum collection), “First Wife” is complete fiction; for one thing, I was never in the army.
Experimental poetry journal Avant Appal(achia)‘s Issue #6 went live today. Nice selection of interesting text and visual work. This one also includes my poem “You Need a New Heart,” one of a series of pieces based on the idea of an imaginary AI transactional language. You can read the piece and the whole issue here.
This text forms part of a new series of experiments inspired by the Facebook AI units that recently developed their own language using English words with different syntax and meaning. The AI units were intended to carry out customer service transactions and negotiations, and the format of their language seemed to be a powerful way to confront and manipulate the continuous stream of commercial messages invading our mental space.
These texts represent an attempt to replicate a machine code constructed from an extremely limited vocabulary, often initiated by spam emails. Each piece develops by permutations, repetition, and sound/rhythm. It’s impossible for the human observer to know if the machine is analyzing or tabulating data, performing a calculation, conducting a negotiation, or making a persuasive appeal. Any of these functions is a possibility. In a way, the texts are a form of speculative fiction: looking at a machine narrative pulled from a future where AIs have been released to perform functions on their own. As in the case of the Facebook AIs, these instances show a machine or machines adapting human (English) language for their own ends. The repetition of the key words imitates a transactional language, as if a carnival barker is repeating an appeal to a potential audience. But the end result also reminds me of a magical incantation appealing to a familiar spirit.
Literary journal Five-2-One usually appears in print, but its daily supplement, The Sideshow, appears online. My poem “After the Guillotine” appears there starting today in text and video formats. The video features my reading of the poem, along with an electronic backing score. Warning: grim subject matter may not be appropriate for all audiences! You can view it all here.
Outlaw Poetry is an online journal comprising a who’s who of outlaw poets. So I’m very pleased to appear in their pages again, this time with three poems: “Joyce in Washington,” “On a Roll,” and “Women’s Work is Never Done.” You can read them here.
The first two pieces are based on real people and events. When I was temping at the USPS headquarters many years ago, Joyce worked there as an administrative assistant. She was a real character, very unique for DC, who I couldn’t resist writing about. One detail that didn’t make the poem was the vibrating pillow she used to sit on to soothe her back.
“On a Roll” is the second of two poems I wrote, more or less transcribing one of my dad’s rants in a New Jersey hotel room after a very long day helping my sister move from her apartment. When he’s on a roll, he’s on a roll.
Word for/Word is an online journal of experimental poetry that just released its issue #32. Lots of interesting text and visual poetry to check out. It includes three of my Gonch poems, “Cachallanog Agaal,” “Nagan Halloch Cohl Llonagga,” and “Llaanaganallo Hacla Chagalnach Aglacoa,” as well as five images from the Gonchlog. You can read them here; just click on my name in the far right column on the front page.
The text pieces come from a series of new works using a vocabulary limited to words invented from the nonsense phrase “All Gonch.” It’s an attempt to create a new language, imagining also the culture behind it through the shape and structure of the words, that might arise after the death of the current (American) culture and language.
The images are part of another phase of the Gonch project I call the Gonchlog. In this process, I search through consumer magazines and cut out the five letters of “gonch,” then glue them onto accounting paper. The source, its date of publication, and volume number are noted. The intention is to draw out that key nonsense word from these commercial propaganda vehicles in order to find a way forward.
I’m a little slow on the uptake, but just learned that Horror Sleaze Trash published my poem “Point Blank” on Friday, Oct 26. (Same day they published “Popeye Pops a Boner.”) This one too is kind of an explicit, NSFW piece. You can read the full poem here.
It’s been a while since I posted new video content, so today I uploaded the “Quasar Pulsar” video to YouTube. I’ve been placing stills from it in various journals over the past year (Otoliths, Angry Old Man, H&, etc). This one is pretty long at nearly 13 minutes, but the colors and movement may make it interesting enough to endure. Electronic soundtrack by Tone Ghosting. The text is the last stanza from my poem “Shit on a Stick Corporation”: “Quasar pulsar/beep beep/to the stars and all.” It refers to the noise pollution of televised advertising escaping into space, which some alien race light years away will have to deal with eventually. Why would aliens visit the Earth? To tell us to keep it down.