[NetBehaviour] Annoying Diabetic Flarf Search-Engine Generative Poet.
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Tue Oct 14 13:23:49 CEST 2008
Annoying Diabetic Flarf Search-Engine Generative Poet.
"Annoying Diabetic Bitch," "Ass Vagina," "Squid Versus Assclown,"
and "You F*cked Jimmy," written and performed by Sharon Mesmer (and
Poetry: The Office is a Cruel Muse
by Jim Feast
Sharon Mesmer, Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo Books, 2007)
As Sharon Mesmer explains in the afterword of her new book, the poems
of Annoying Diabetic Bitch were written to conform to both textual
and social rules.
Broadly speaking, all poetry is composed under such constraints. An
Elizabethan sonnet followed a certain stanzaic or metric pattern
while, at the same time, only coming to be within a certain social
coterie composed of aristocrats and their hangers-on (like
Shakespeare). However, when Mesmer speaks of a social component to
her lyrics, she is linking them not to an enclosed segment of
society, but to a practice. She writes that she belongs to “a handful
of poets with full-time jobs and little time to write [who] were
entering outrageous and/or inappropriate word combinations in the
Google search engine and making poems out of the results.”
From this we can conclude, to put it baldly: many writers verbally
subvert corporate mentalities, but this poetry is outright sabotage.
Mesmer is paid to work at some (probably) insipid and meaningless
editorial task, but instead, being careful to pretend to be busy on
task, writes verse. She is striking her employer at two points. For
one, she is cheating the firm out of wages (or, should we say,
exploited surplus labor); and, for two, given that her lyrics are
flighty, fantastic, witty and vulgar, she is (metaphorically)
offering a rebuke to the writing the publisher is expecting her to
work at, shaping up what is (undoubtedly) sterile, slack-jawed pabulum.
Of course, for good or ill, created in these circumstances, every
piece deals, at least obliquely, with the work experience. And this,
too, seems back of the general tone of the compositions, which is, in
a word, vitriolic.
In the U.S., standing behind the economic shift that has sent jobs
skedaddling overseas and pushed the middle class into underpaid
peonage (at such jobs as Mesmer’s) is the politician. Bush, for
example, comes in for some headbanging clouts. She visualizes him as
When I do my flight suit sausage strut
On the deck of the frigate, flippin’ the bird
The grunts all know I have the primo cunt
Then there’s our mayor: “Mike Bloomberg ogling boobs in decent
And what about the right-wing supporters of these politicians? Lay
out the skewers. There is “Compassionate Conservative Girlfriend.”
Mesmer comments, “You have to pass Ashore 101 to get into that.” And
also “Fascist Girlfriend,” who “deploy[s] evil sexual sponges.” Let’s
not forget celebrities and the baby Jesus—they are now in one category
—who helped create the numbed mindlessness that gives our leaders
free rein. In this world, the Good Book now has other purposes than
providing moral guidance. “The biblical strategy for choosing a
fetish model life partner//is to seek Jesus in prayer.”
Like any good screeds, Mesmer’s poems tend to be unbalanced. Often
they are diatribes moving up through a crescendo of curses or
blasphemies until they reach an insult that can’t be topped, and then
they close. Frequently, however, a simple narrative or associational
vortex is used to control the writing’s volatility. For instance, in
“Apropos of Monkey Penis,” which is a poem about your typical
Thanksgiving dinner, the appearance of the guests, “J. Penis,
Scrotum,//Doodiekins and Debbie,” quickly leads to mayhem, when
“Pookieboo straddled his giant hose//spewing frogs, saints and little
Davids.” Eventually, the festive party collapses in “monkey penis
fights” and the occasion is ruined. Here the tendency of her poems to
become scattershot is held in check by the plot.
If we go back to Mesmer’s original tenet, that the writing must be
done at work, a sociological explanation for the looseness of some of
her constructions readily offers itself. In an office atmosphere, it
would be nigh impossible to craft a carefully modulated, fully lucid,
temperate book of lyrics. There are too many disturbances, spies and
deadlines. One can write, though, as Mesmer does, an angry, disturbed
polemic that laughingly whacks out at the pieties and false faces
that overpopulate our media and streets. A poetry collection, then,
like a box of fireworks, in which a few fizzle but most burst with an
illicit delight of sparks.
Sent by Bruce Sterling on Nettime.
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