Jewish World Review August 25, 2004 / 8 Elul, 5764

Andrei Codrescu

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Dada poetry | The pulses of Spam are surging around the dams and walls erected by spam-assassin software, networks and government, and producing eerie poetry. At first, I thought that avantgardists had targeted me personally for their guerilla poetry, but realized quickly that there was way too much of it and that even the most automatic generators of word-salad could not make as many strange combinations as stuffed my mailbox every morning. Still, Tristan Tzara, founder of Dada, would have been proud of this one:

eerily perplex bookie cynthia aggression
discretion bravado culture ghostlike introvert
cybernetic christy bulgaria comedian condition

jigsaw rome sketch romano cortex
inflater sri hopkins nausea dirt
laser bonanza charcoal orthopedic cellular

There are poets in this country who'd give their left foot for a poem like that, because it has everything that a poet requires: density, impenetrability, a dark sort of music, and nearly perfect fodder for critics. "Jigsaw rome sketch romano cortex" would make Wallace Stevens' day, not to speak of your average Language poet working in the cellars of aggressive non-reference.

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I now know that this Spam poetry is involuntary, necessitated by the spammers' need to get some product across border-controls, but involuntary or not, the stuff is compelling and I hope that an anthologist somewhere is collecting and will make a book out of it.

Aside from its intrinsic hermeticism, this poetry is symptomatic of our nation. The need to sell something has reached the frenzied pitch of art: entrepreneurs have stumbled into the secret of the postmodern brain in their rush to add banality to our over saturated and overextended consumer selves. And the strange thing is that it works.

We are perfect receptors for Dada poetry, made pliable by a relentless history of nonsense and nonstop pitching.

"Eerily perplex bookie cynthia" is us.

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JWR contributor Andrei Codrescu is a poet, commentator and author, most recently, of "Wakefield". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.


08/11/04: A place to roll on the floor
07/22/04: The reading catastrophe
03/17/03: The talking carp
01/24/03: Old commies and bohemians never say die
01/02/03: Larry's dream
12/10/02: Notes on the mustache
10/28/02: Silence
09/11/02: 9/11 for Allen Ginsberg
06/20/02: Giving insurance to a young life
04/18/02: Advertisers and poets exchange places
04/12/02: DRACULA-LAND
03/21/02: Sacred ritual
02/22/02: Invasion of the Nanny-seekers
02/08/02: The body of liberty

© 2004, Andrei Codrescu.