(Re-)Claiming the Body

This entry is part 3 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


I’ve been trying for days to make a videopoem that I’m satisfied with — no luck. But at least I managed to revise an old poem in the process. (This also appears in my online collection Shadow Cabinet. One of the main advantages of self-publishing your work on the web is that you never have to abandon it. Come to think of it, that’s also one of the main disadvantages!)

This is a modified Google poem, meaning that I searched a word (body) and collected some of the most common or interesting usages, but added my own responses (the unitalicized phrases). A pure Google poem would consist entirely of search results, such as my earlier “Chant for the Summit of the World Body,” which inspired this — a very tame form of flarf.

Claiming the Body


of work

why do you wake me up at 4:00 a.m.

body of evidence

body of knowledge

body of the paper
here comes
the red pen

governing body
hold me

body of water
hold me

body count
you overwhelm

body image
upside-down in the lens

body in motion
you rest at
a constant speed

body of Christ
one size
fits all

Body of Missing Pilot

body of a Venus
full of give

body work
everything comes into play



Download the MP3


I’ve been asked to respond to ten questions for a series at Nic S.’s blog, Very Like a Whale, on poets’ uses of technology. The responses so far, by Amy King, Collin Kelley, and Ren Powell, have been excellent, and I’m not sure what there will be left for me to say by the time my turn rolls around, in least in terms of theory and analysis. That’s probably for the best, though — analytic thinking has never been my strong suit. But revising the foregoing poem has reminded me that I have done a bit of experimenting, even though stylistically I am not an experimental poet. I suppose there might be some general interest in showing how someone who is pretty much a mainstream practitioner of contemporary poetry can still take advantage of digital and online technologies.

So I’m trying to think of examples in particular for Nic’s eighth question, “Do you use technology as an integral element of your poetry? If so, how? If not, why not?” Clearly, my two neo-Flarfist “body” poems are one example where a technology (internet searching) played a pivotal role. I could also mention my use of online polls and surveys (I need to play around some more with branching surveys), mind maps, digital poetry postcards, audio- and videopoetry, and Twitter poetry (i.e. The Morning Porch). Needless to say, I also plan to talk about the salutary effects of blogging on poetry in general, such as the way photo captions often morph into poems. I guess I’ll mention online collaboration, though I haven’t done nearly as much of that as I should — my chain poem about news stories with Patricia Anderson is one of the few examples that comes to mind. What else am I forgetting?

Series Navigation← Natural FacultiesCeiling snakes →

4 Replies to “(Re-)Claiming the Body”

  1. I can’t wait! Just when I think I have made up my mind about something people come along and make me reconsider… flarf, for example. And self-publication. And copyright. You are good for me.

    1. Damn, the pressure’s on! I actually started a draft already, which is highly atypical behavior for me. But I promise I’ll procrastinate on the rest until the very last moment. Reading the other responses is such a blast! Thanks for doing this, Nic, and for inviting me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.