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Saturday, January 3, 2009

My work is not my work

I will be very interested
to get your opinions on this one. It was recently brought to my attention that one of "my poems" appeared in a new anthology called Issue 1, a 3,785-page magnum opus of versification put out by forgodot.com. I found that interesting, since I didn't submit to the project. So I looked online and found a downloadable pdf of the book. Sure enough, on page 3,011 (they buried me in the back, the bastards) there is a poem called "Of intoxication," a title I kind of like, since it seems to fit me. The poem is attributed to "mark s kuhar" (all lower-case, just like i like it.) The poem reads like this . . .


A late sun
The unheard spaces
A lark

problem is, it t'ain't my poem. I never wrote it. In doing some more digging, there are comments all over the internet from people complaining that this book contains poems they never wrote. I have not been able to digest the entire list of more than 3,000 poets, but there are famous names, such as Terry Southern, Emily Dickinson, Bob Dylan and Franz Kafka, and at least two other names I know: Jill Riga, who is local, and Andrew Lundwall, a poet from Wisconsin whom I have published on deep cleveland press.

Apparently, when asked, the anthology's editors are saying that it must be a different (insert name here) that we dealt with in putting together the anthology. I think you get the idea. The anthology is one part literary experiment, one part lark, all organized and executed on the backs and reputations of poets from all over the country and world. Having said that, some of the poems aren't bad. Much of it reads like randomly generated computer sentences, but it could be worse. So, what do you think. Is it cool? Is it unacceptable? Subversive? Criminal? Let me hear your thoughts.


11 comments:

T.M. Göttl said...

I'd be angry if they'd used my name. And did the famous people actually write what's attributed to them? Maybe if those named had given their permission to be part of the project (if in fact, it was intended to be "experimental art" and not just a scam) it would be ok. Maybe. But to me, it just looks like a big and overly complex scam.

john "jc" burroughs said...

I was outraged when I read your blog, Mark. Still not sure what to think, though the "editor," Stephen McLaughlin (if that's really who he is), seems to kinda almost say that he's "algorithmically" created these pieces by apparently somehow excerpting and rearranging the actual words of the ascribed poets. Smells of a cheap publicity stunt - but is also a neat bit of "experimental art" to borrow TM's words). I would be more comfortable if he'd gotten permission.... But i must admit that after checking it out a bit, I actually started laughing out loud. Still not sure what to think, as I said, but he's inviting folks to send him a chapbook, and I think I'll do it. What the hell? Either some poem I did or didn't write will end up in issue two or I will have wasted a dollar to disseminate my poetry to a charlatan. Has potential to be amusing either way....

By the way, C. Allen Rearick, who will be one of our Lix and Kix featured poets at the 806 Wine and Martini Bar on Tuesday 20 January, is also featured in this anthology. If he didn't write the poem ascribed to him in it, it might be fun to hear him read it anyway. ;)

john burroughs said...

I wish it included an index or table of contents for easier browsing. So far I found one other Cleveland area poet's name and alleged poem in it: Mary O'Malley (pp.3776-3777). And a poem ascribed to G. Manley Hopkins is not one I recognize by him, though it seems to have been intended to resemble his style.

john burroughs said...

Other Cleveland area poets who appear in the listing of supposed contributors include Ray McNiece, Susan Grimm, Lou Suarez, and Hart Crane.

michael salinger said...

It's a parody as the author/assemblist explains here:

http://www.forgodot.com/2008/10/issue-1-polite-clarification.html

It's a 3,000 + page manuscript!

Pressin On said...

my friend alex gildzen was also "included".

he sent the link a while back--
i wouldnt get so mad. in a sense its some punks who thot it was funny and an expression of how many online mags, and how much poetry being written out there....
they did it as a farce most likely
and not so much to piss off people.
i figure if your name is included, it is kind of a nod.
means you are out there and
therefore exist.
your poetry exists, if your name
was included.

Mark S. Kuhar . . . said...

John -- Thanks for your deep digging. There are a lot more local poets in there than I suspected. Andrew Lundwall tells me the poems were all generated by a computer program called "erica t. carter." I still don't know what to think about it.I read somewhere that someone was going to sue the editors. I think that's probably a bit extreme.

john burroughs said...

Ooh... how did I miss Alex (a former fellow Elyrian) in there? One thing I think is undeniable - every writer named in the volume matters. Hopefully I'll matter enough to be included next time. ;)

Anonymous said...

Jack McGuane and Zachary Schomberg were in there too

~elise said...

Marcus Bales, C. Allen are there too...guess I don't exist...

Pressin On said...

ha ha, elise, you exist, in my book!

Cited...

The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau