homeaboutarchivepodcastnewslettermembership!
aboutarchivepodcastmembership!
aboutarchivemembers!

kottke.org posts about poetry

Poets ranked by beard weight

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 09, 2010

How do Tennyson, Longfellow, and Thoreau stack up in terms of the thickness of their beards? Surprisingly, that question has been asked and answered.

That “exalted dignity, that certain solemnity of mien,” lent by an imposing beard, “regardless of passing vogues and sartorial vagaries,” says Underwood, is invariably attributable to the presence of an obscure principle known as the odylic force, a mysterious product of “the hidden laws of nature.” The odylic, or od, force is conveyed through the human organism by means of “nervous fluid” which invests the beard of a noble poet with noetic emanations and ensheathes it in an ectoplasmic aura.

(via stamen)

DNA poetry

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2010

Poet Christian Bök wants to compose a poem and encode it into the DNA of the Deinococcus radiodurans bacteria — “the most radiation-resistant organism known”.

He wants to inject the DNA with a string of nucleotides that form a comprehensible poem, and he also wants the protein that the cell produces in response to form a second comprehensible poem.

AGGCGT GCCACC AAT
TCT TACC GATTT CT
CA CTCTAG ACC CTG
AGCCCA CGC GGTTCA

(via mr)

Thread poets society

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 18, 2010

At the newly renovated Bygone Bureau, Darryl Campbell investigates the small but vibrant poetry community that has formed in the comment threads on the NY Times website.

Tiger, Tiger burning bright
In the sex clubs of Orlando
Guess it’s time you took a break
And lived life with more candor
Must’ve been weird, your secret life
Never an unserviced erection
Shouldn’t you, though, have taught the wife
Some proper club selection?

Levi’s (sponsored by America)

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 28, 2009

This is a 36-second wax cylinder recording of Walt Whitman reading a few lines from his poem, America. You may recognize the recording from its use in Levi’s new ad campaign:

I thought for sure that Ryan McGinley had directed this and the O Pioneers! commercial but it turns out he just (just!) did the photos for the print campaign. (via slate)

Update: The audio clip used in that commercial might not be Whitman after all. From the inbox:

The Walt Whitman recording that is being used by the Levi’s commercial that you posted on the 28th is actually not Whitman, and is now considered by most audio archivists to be a hoax.

More information about this most interesting recording can be found in Vol. X, No. 3 of Allen Koenigsberg’s Antique Phonograph Monthly magazine from 1992, pages 9-11.

Among things pointed out, one is that the speech on the soundtrack ends with the quote, “Freedom Law and Love,” whereas the original printed version of the poem ends with “Chair’d in the adamant of Time.”

Koenigsberg also points out that Whitman’s last years were chronicled on a daily basis by his personal secretary, and being wheelchair-bound, such a visit for Whitman would have been difficult, unprecedented, and undoubtedly noted.

(thx, jack)

Flarf

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 29, 2009

Flarf is a form of poetry made by combining together phrases from random web searches. Here’s an early example:

“Yeah, mm-hmm, it’s true
big birds make
big doo! I got fire inside
my ‘huppa’-chimp(TM)
gonna be agreessive, greasy aw yeah god
wanna DOOT! DOOT!
Pffffffffffffffffffffffffft! hey!”

Flarf started off as a joke but then these joke poems that people were coming up with “evolved from ‘bad’ to ‘sort of great’”.

Edge Books publisher Rod Smith, a poet himself, says he feels the [Flarf] collective is prompting a bit of anarchy in the poetry world by widening the vocabulary of what is permissible. “Aesthetic judgments about what’s bad in a very hierarchal society are usually serving upper-class people with a certain amount of privilege,” he says. “So for a bunch of poets who are very well schooled in a variety of traditions of American poetry to take what’s considered bad and throw that at people is a very interesting maneuver. It’s not simply bad poetry; it’s quote-unquote bad poetry written by people who know how to write poetry.”

A dogcow makes a moof

posted by Jason Kottke   May 15, 2009

Hackers Can Sidejack Cookies, a poem by Heather McHugh.

Designs succumbing
to creeping featuritis
are banana problems.
(“I know how to spell banana,
but I don’t know when to stop.”)

Famous poet zombies

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 09, 2009

I can’t decide if this is creepy or cool: a bunch of videos of dead poets reading their poems. The effect is achieved by warping photos to make it look like their mouths are moving. Here’s Poe reading The Raven and Robert Frost doing The Road Not Taken.

Williams Poems

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2008

Inspired by Emmett Williams, a practitioner of concrete poetry, Rob Giampietro has written three poems: Wastebasket, Snowflakes, and Spraypaint.

Spraypaint poem

Giampietro has put out a call for someone to develop a Williams Word Generator. Drop him a line if you can help out…shouldn’t be too much different than the many “words within words” generators scattered around the web.

Love is a ballfield

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 28, 2008

A poem in which each instance of the word “love” is replaced by “Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame Catcher Carlton Fisk”.

“And know you not,” says Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame Catcher Carlton Fisk, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”

(via hodgman)

Newspaper blackout poems

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2008

Austin Kleon makes Newspaper Blackout Poems by blacking out all but a few choice words of newspaper articles.

A Woman’s bust is the host of Romance, so Don’t deplore my fondness for It

The One Day Poem Pavilion uses the

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2008

The One Day Poem Pavilion uses the sun to display a poem one line at a time over the course of an entire day. (via stingy kids)

The Virginia Quarterly Review analyzed their poetry

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2008

The Virginia Quarterly Review analyzed their poetry submissions for use of poetic cliches and found that the cliches do get published more often than not. Also of note is that “darkness” is an undervalued poetic cliche…it was in only 4% of submitted poems but in 17% of published poems. Poets, “darkness” is your way into VQR.

“I Was Walkin’ Along The Street”

posted by Choire Sicha   Jan 14, 2008

I’ve gotten totally re-obsessed with Kathy Acker, the East Village writer who died in 1997. It started with this recording of Acker reading a poem [Warning: audio, 2 minutes, 28 seconds, and not really safe for work!] that was released in 1980 on the LP “Sugar, Alcohol & Meat” by Giorno Poetry Systems and recently digitized by UbuWeb. Her New York accent is one that has largely disappeared since; she sounds amazing. Then I found this, which is an incredibly long mp3, the first 3/4s of which is a Michael Brownstein reading. The end, though, is a monologue which then becomes a stageplay by Acker about a woman, her suicide, her grandmother, and her psychiatrist. It is absolutely not safe for work, what with its endless use of a certain word for ladyparts that goes over well in Scotland but not at all (yet!) in the U.S.

Winners of the Helvetica haiku contest I

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 03, 2007

Winners of the Helvetica haiku contest I pointed to a couple of weeks ago. My favorite of all the ones listed: “i shot the serif / left him there full of leading / yearning for kerning”. Close second: “She misunderstood / When I said she was ‘Grotesque’ / Akzidenz happen”. I am a sucker for puns.

Enter this font haiku contest to win

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2007

Enter this font haiku contest to win a limited-edition poster from the Helvetica documentary.

Robert Birnbaum interviews Donald Hall, who was

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 21, 2006

Robert Birnbaum interviews Donald Hall, who was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the United States (PLOTUS).

Update: Newsweek’s Brian Braiker talked with Hall shortly after his appointment (by fax!) in June.

What would happen if poets and playwrights

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 18, 2006

What would happen if poets and playwrights wrote works whose titles were anagrams of their names? Here’s one by Basho called Has B.O: “Swamp mist, eyes water- / Why is that monk still wearing / Winter robes in June?”

From a blog critical of typographic faux

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 09, 2006

From a blog critical of typographic faux pas comes this handy rhyme for remembering the difference between apostrophes/quotation marks and foot/inch marks: “Straight up and down you’re in foot mark town! / A contraction you say? Use apostrophes every day! / You want to say ‘Hi!’ to a chum or a neighbour? / Use inch marks and everyone will think you’re an idiot!” Guilty as charged.

“It is with mounting nausea that we

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2006

It is with mounting nausea that we watch poets race to cast their liberal votes for candidates more conservative than the Republicans they found beyond revulsion twenty years ago — and indeed not just to feed at this trough but serve the slop.”

Friends and Family 2.0, a poem

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 26, 2006

I’m so glad I’m friends with you
I can see your Flickr pix
and your Vox posts too

Joan Murray poem: We Old Dudes. (via 3qd)

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 11, 2006

Joan Murray poem: We Old Dudes. (via 3qd)

Book blog starts Fibonacci poem fad, i.

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 17, 2006

Book blog starts Fibonacci poem fad, i.e. the writing of poems where the number of syllables in each line is dictated by the Fibonacci sequence. “Poets are very, very hungry for constraint right now.”

The Guardian on spam poetry. I featured

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2006

The Guardian on spam poetry. I featured the work of noted spam poet Gary Milano (webm@yahoo.com) a couple of years ago. See also Outside the Inbox, a compilation of songs inspired by spam subject lines.

Update: And The Words of Albert Spamus.

Poetry takes more brain power to read than prose

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2005

Poetry takes more brain power to read than prose. “Subjects were found to read poems slowly, concentrating and re-reading individual lines more than they did with prose.”