Things I never thought I’d say: I wrote my first Flarf for this weekend’s Cake & Hyperbull!

Flarp is nor Flarf

Let me translate. This weekend will be another Cake & Hyperbull poetry show with Amy Zoellers and I. We have set ourselves a challenge to try new poetry styles, and this month we will be playing with “Flarf.” Yes, Flarf is a literary form.

According to Wikipedia, “Flarf poetry can be characterized as an avant-garde poetry movement of the late 20th century and the early 21st century. Its first practitioners utilized an aesthetic dedicated to the exploration of “the inappropriate” in all of its guises. Their method was to mine the Internet with odd search terms then distil the results into often hilarious and sometimes disturbing poems, plays, and other texts.”

Okay… this answers what is Flarf, but not how. From what I gather, one method of Flarfing is to do a Google search and then pull phrases from it to create a poem. I imagine there are many ways to Flarf, but that’s the method I chose. This was Amy’s suggestion and I thought it sounded ridiculous… so of course I was all in. Let’s Flarf!

I chose “What is a human” as my search. I came up with a list of places where I could go for more info, but I was only interested in that first page for my Google Sculpting (also a term). I like the idea of taking a page of info dump and chipping away, looking for the poem trapped within. I didn’t see how the poem would be any good though. I am pleasantly surprised and now a fan of Flarfing—but I’m probably misusing it as a adverb.

Flarf as poetry is being taught in universities and if you do a Google search on it you will also find a lot of information. My favorite link for literary Flarf is “How to write flarf” at Jim Murdoch’s blog here or this one by The Los Angeles Review of Books—Funks of Ambivalence: On Flarf.

Tune in to Cake & Hyperbull this weekend to hear Amy and I present our Flarf experiments and interview each other by reading randomly drawn questions off strips of paper. Cake & Hyperbull will be live this Saturday at noon CST here or just show up here and I’ll have it posted on the day. I will most likely post my Flarf poem Monday at poetrynook.com.

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About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Shimanchu-American and an award-winning poet, author, and publisher with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), a two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020, she offers free classes for writers on her website.

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