Flarf = Spell Check Poetry

I did a show with a guy that led me to look some stuff up on line wherein I discovered a thing called “Flarf” I’m not going to go over all this again, so you’ll have to go back and read the post just before this one.

Wikipedia has an entry on flarf… I skimmed it.. cause I think it’s in keeping with the movement that I not know too much about it before I decide to dive into it..

My take on it is that it’s a non-traditional form which welcomes comedy and absurdity and in some ways aspires to be bad… it’s an exploration and exploitation of various language foibles and some of it is derived from internet searches and “found language.”

I consider this akin to found object sculpture (which I also enjoy): You find the discarded and over looked pieces of our world and make something new and interesting from it…

Some of these pieces I’ve vaguely payed attention to while they played in the background as I wrote this and they seem to almost even mock the concept of a poetry slam, I’ve been there before…. oddly enough, about 10 years ago when the genre was born.

While in college, I went to a weekly poetry slam that my neighbor organized. I went to support and also to meet some cute intellectual girls [note to former self: this will not work if you are secretly mocking every girl that gets up to read] and after two weeks of it I was kinda irritated by the consistent crappiness of it all. I would never be one to crap on someone else’s self-expression, lord knows I’ve had some pretty crummy forms of it myself… (you’re reading some of it now), but since it all went down about 10 years ago I feel more comfortable in saying, that alot of it was bad and it got on my nerves. The subject matter was all the same and fell into about 4 categories:

  • I like sex
  • I like drugs
  • I like sex and drugs
  • my ex/current lover is a deuche

So, as I was saying, it was starting to cause alot of my sarcasm to boil up in me and so I started writing things spur of the moment while sitting in the audience and then reading them at the end of the night… in one “piece” I wrote really corn ball lines that had obvious rhymes to them, but would go out of my way to make it NOT rhyme. In another “piece” I traded lines back and forth (class note style) with a girl i was hitting on at the time and we read it together (I probably have these “pieces” somewhere and will eventually drag them out)…. it was all very silly and cute and sarcastic, and actually got me the nickname with one dude, who only came to one poetry slam, of “poetry slam guy.” I felt bad about that….

At the same time as this was happening I was also studying Landscape Architecture and thus writing a lot of papers with scientific botanical names of plants in them. Of course, when I would run spell check, it would never know what to make of these words and would make some weird suggestions. I decided to take this idea and apply it to “poetry” I then spent about an hour typing random letters on a keyboard and then running spell checker to see what it thought I was trying to say. I made a few choices here and there from the options it gave me and then I  re-evaluated it to see what I could do with it from there…. I only did this once, and I never read the stuff to anyone but my brother. I lost interest because I had other things demanding my time but I always thought it was a funny idea. When I found out about Flarf, all those old memories came flooding back.

I don’t know what happened to my old spell check poetry but here are some recent examples that resulted from the method:

Naked figs fry hips
daft junk does the hide

Nude  drunk
Shows  hide to advertiser

Mom, slide aside naked uneasily
is a dish full of shady liquid?

Nukes did kiss, then found judo
Iowa’s sun adds laughter to a linen nest

So there’s that… I don’t know where it will go from here.
Maybe history will repeat itself and I’ll never do it again or maybe I’ll keep doing it forever.
Maybe it’s all crap or maybe it’s genius…
Maybe it’s crap now, but will evolve into genius…

I don’t really care one way or the other. I am a comedian First and Foremost, so if it gets a laugh, then I’m cool with it.

Another variation which I tried today, hearkening back to the botanical name results, is to start with a document that is in a foreign language and spell check that.
This resulted in a really crazy short story, which may lead to some weird videos and sketches… all of which I will share once I complete them.

Stay Tuned