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,
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.