Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Internet Has Officially Changed Everything**

**The above not an original statement.
People probably said this same shit when e.e. cummings stopped using correct grammar formats.

I just sat on my couch listening to my iPod because I am a millennial and read the entirety of sometimes my heart pushes my ribs by Ellen Kennedy, which Tao Lin was kind enough to send me as his press, Muumuu House, publishes it. (Oh god, "In an Aeroplane Over the Sea" just started playing so there is a 50% chance I'll start crying while writing this post)

The internet has officially changed everything. I know that Tao is notorious for writing poetry about Gchat and energy drinks, but Ellen even uses "like" in her poems. (Example: "then you went into your room and your computer had this/program that you could make animations with/and you made like 5 videos of your dad/changing from a happy dad/to a pissed dad.")

Poetry has always been about personal expression and I guess this is the way our generation knows how to do so. I'm not going to say memes and internet culture and protocelebrities are ruining poetry as an art form or spitting in the face of academia, but I think it's an interesting progression. Poetry these days seems lifted straight from blogs, fraught with intentional typos and internet memes and euphemisms. (At least the poetry being vommed up by young people). Ew. Poetry is like a conglomerate of Tweets extracted from the internetz and published in highly specific methods in the pages of this bizarre, dying object called a "book."

I seriously don't know what to think about the breakdown between poetry and regular creative writing. I've taken a number of poetry classes, read a lot of poetry and write some really emo shit, but I feel torn about this whole thing. Part of me misses the days when poetry was this respected art form (well, maybe that was only the case in Paris?) and was elevated to this prestigious, unattainable way of expressing yourself that only really talented people could do well. But now maybe anyone who has a handle of the English language and a Twitter account can become a poet. Perhaps that makes poetry less ostracizing, more inclusive and available to wider audiences, but it also kind of dumbs it down. "Poetry isn't for smart people anymore! Check out this poem I wrote about having an AIM convo while hitting a bong."

Maybe there's just not room for real poetry anymore (RIP J&J Lit Salon). Maybe we're all philistines now and would simply prefer to trade in conversations that begin wth "lol" and perilously scramble up highbrow and lowbrow forms until everything's just middlea.k.a.boringbrow. The internet has democratized art hierarchies! But what will happen, finally, to poetry?



Sharon Clark said...

It might help to read more than just Tao Lin or Ellen Kennedy before you make broad generalizations. There is a lot of poetry out there right now and some poets are writing in an intellectual vein. Tao Lin's purpose is for attention more than anything. His focus is publicity, hence the Britney Spears prank, hence why you have one of his press's books in your possession. He's a poor representation of what's going on with poetry today or what will happen with it. Not to knock how successful he's been making it onto gawker and all, but he's a fad.

Poetry isn't just personal expression, it's art -- I think Tao Lin is antithetical to that. It still is a respected art form, and I can imagine so more in Europe than here. Sure, the internet has an effect on both how prolific and how grammatically deficient people are (both increase with increased use of internet), but language is something that's ever changing. Whitman democratized poetry so it wouldn't be restricted to rhyme and meter. Anyone can write poetry, but because of the proliferation of small presses and literary magazines, anyone can be published, and a lot of the time, it's the wrong people. It's sort of like how everyone knows someone with a band. Having a band doesn't mean the same thing as it did in, even, say, the 90s.

Anyway, poetry is still happening.

Jess and Josh said...

I do read more than Tao Lin and Ellen Kennedy, but do you have any specific suggestions of good, young, relevant poets? I could always read more.

Sharon Clark said...

Right now I'm reading Folly by Nada Gordon. It came out from Roof Books and it's pretty fascinating and funny. Noelle Kocot is pretty great, and, though she writes essays, I'd recommend Jenny Boully. Her Book of Beginnings and Endings is beautiful.