November 30th, 2011 / 5:45 pm

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

– – –

Winner: AWP

Tags: ,


  1. Daniel Bailey

      lol the link showed up as forty four comments. i couldn’t figure out how to link to that specific post.

  2. Mike Young

      calling that post 44 Comments is genius

  3. Melissa Broder

      It’s really beautiful to see the unicorn back at htmlgiant.

  4. deadgod


  5. march

      This was like the #1 and #2 seeds fighting it out.  Either of these would have creamed anything in the West bracket — flarf has clumps of guys like the Georgia Review in its stool.

  6. c2k


      Don’t blame the addict, blame the game.

      Kudos for your intervention here.

  7. Tron

      “They wrote poems that were funny and surprising in ways that only a child or google can be surprising.”

      No offense, but maybe you need more interesting friends!

  8. Leapsloth14

      Love me some Daniel Bailey!!

      Daniel. I’m teaching a class of students who will be teaching that grade level creative writing. Do you have any textbook or guides advice for teaching CW to kids?

  9. Daniel Bailey

      just give them activities that you think are fun. i usually had them read two poems each class and then talk briefly as a class about it. then the rest of the time was writing. also, i would let whoever wanted to share their poems share. i guess my main philosophy was get them excited about poetry instead of forcing forms or terms on them. my other philosophy was “what would peter davis do?” because that guy is awesome at teaching introductory poetry.

      as for texts, i mostly just used poems that i like. one of the internship coordinator’s gave us a handout with activities and i used a few of those. elizabeth taddonio also gave me some ideas for a few others because she’s bomb at that sort of thing.

  10. Daniel Bailey

      i have to finish my mfa program first lol

  11. M. Kitchell


  12. Leapsloth14

      Still confused what flarf is

  13. barry

      i had more faith in you than this daniel. 

  14. Anonymous

      Dang, knew I shouldn’t have picked Flarf to make it out of the first round.

  15. Darby Larson

      is what confused flarf still

  16. Mike Woods

      ditto…though my not knowing what something is usually means it is cool. New tactic required…

  17. JW

      Not familiar with flarf or AWP.  Please define it for us, somebody.  Thanks.

  18. Scott mcclanahan

      Great post, Daniel.

  19. Daniel Bailey
  20. Nate

      I second the Peter Davis philosophy.

  21. Tummler

      I was rooting for flarf, but this post helped me to accept AWP as the winner.

      Also, I woke up next to a strange girl in my hotel room at AWP and I hadn’t been drinking, so does that almost kind of somewhat count?

  22. dtomaloff

      Flarf is con, fused what still.