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Postmodern Village
est. 1999
e-mail * terms * privacy

Poetry Like a Virus Grows
by Pritchard Lawson

One of the problems of the digital age is unsolicited electronic mail. At times the mail is only annoying; at other moments it becomes a violent, destructive invasion. Viruses can spread willy-nilly through social groups with the speed of influenza bugs. Of course, users can take precautions: use a decent anti-virus program, don't use Microsoft Outlook®, and wash germ-infested hands often.

Yet let us not dismiss all unsolicited e-mails as completely irrelevant. As a public relations professional and an editor for a very small poetry rag, I receive quite a few intriguing letters. I have been invited to "the world of innovation" nearly every single day this week and by seven different people. I could have celebrated New Year's in Beirut or with a charming twenty-four year old woman named Kara.

The most absurd letter I received last month did not involve a horse and a teenager, but a girl named Kimmy whom I feel has a large account at dELiAa*s. I know little about her other than she hails from Minnesota and is a Microsoft Office user. I have never met Kimmy, yet I received her poetry. They were not part of a normal submission package; it was a merely accidental mailing. A poem from Kimmy arrived at my work address; two associates at my small poetry magazine got two different poems. Quite odd.

Kimmy's poems embrace this oddity and randomness, as if created from words picked out of a hat. An example from "Motive of the Day" illustrates her love of stream-of-consciousness and lack of concern with sentence construction:

under the bed,
snowboards and a picture album of sleeping boys
tits and tummy
the big spoon soggy cereal 4 am supper,
Flintstone chewable desert

The careful reader will easily find familiar themes of spam: "nekkid," "tits," "tummy," and vitamins. In another passage, Kimmy refers to "rent paid clinical trial style." Drugs and sex -- what more does a poem need? The speaker of Kimmy's "Birthday Girl" enjoys lingering in the bathtub, daydreaming about

men who smell nice, and strong forearms
small talk, touch me&&&. conversation bombs,
over dinner, with a tart merlot
buzzing anniversary relevance,
pet names,
make out music purr

These men likely receive multiple offers to enhance their manhood, perhaps from Kimmy herself.

More disturbing than Kimmy's e-mails to two separate addresses was the arrival of a similar poem, this time coming from an e-mail address at lavabloom.com. The style is remarkably similar to Kimmy's:

snoopin' ig'nant P.H.d
sup sorta gone finesse
gold ones and givin' pounds
. . .
buggin' blue honeys
jausin', 'bout it 'bout it,
notorious thigh pirates

Perhaps it is simply another poem from Kimmy, but one cannot be certain.

Yes, it appears to this reviewer that poetry is in grave danger of just becoming spam -- not only because of its distribution methods, but also in its absurdity. I hate to sound old-fashioned and like the establishment against which Kimmy is determined to rebel, but I remember when poetry said something. In these days when Helen Steiner Rice is more widely read than the poet laureate of the United States, receiving unsolicited poetry in one's mailbox is a warning sign to the world.

Poetry can spreads with the viciousness of KlezE . . . and with the speed of Code Red. Use this power wisely, young grasshopper.