ToBS R1: flarf vs. AWP

[Matchup #4 in Tournament of Bookshit]

If my own personal feelings toward a thing had anything to do with it, flarf would win this in a landslide, but feelings are not real. Last year, I introduced a flarf poem by K. Silem Mohammad to a class of fifth grade students while teaching a poetry unit for an unpaid internship (it was the one Mohammad poem I could find without cusses or things a fifth grade teacher could get mad at me for). The students became immediately enamored with the flarf process and the possibilities of poetry that refused to do whatever it is that poetry has been expected to do since the first caveman uttered the first O! Poetry was finally fun to these kids. They wrote poems that were funny and surprising in ways that only a child or google can be surprising. But now I can’t help but imagine these children, thirty years from now, well into their poetry careers, paying $190 ($150 if they pre-register) to attend their own book-signings, getting stupidly drunk and sleeping next to a stranger in their hotel rooms, and then possibly fantasizing about responding to an htmlgiant post about whether or not they’ve gotten laid at AWP with “i can’t remember.” Then, redirecting their browser to Google, the poet will search for blog posts about their own AWP readings and find their name only in a long list form and this will happen again the next year and the next year. The poet will then go to Whole Foods or Costco and buy some food for vegans or food for cheap and carry it all back home in their ugly AWP tote bag and once back home the poet will gis “AWP” with this suggestive result.

Daniel Bailey

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Winner: AWP