… Six post-internet poetry pamphlets
To continue with the SWC’s roundup of our favourite books to gift during the holidays, we put together a list of the 6 best post-internet Poetry volumes that we think would make the best presents for friends and family.
I Love Roses When They’re Past Their Best, ed. By Harry Burke
This anthology is the best handbook for those less familiar with post-internet poetry. All sixteen the featured poets incorporate social media, computers, or the internet in their poetry-writing process. Harry Burke’s sophisticated introduction places these tendencies in relation to 20th century poetry, postmodern theory and more recent poetic trends like uncreative writing – making it perfect for those doubtful poetry purists you’ve heard muttering ‘what even is the deal with internet poetry, anyway’? Buy it for your incredibly knowledgeable older relative who knows Rabbie Burns by heart.
The Best Thing Ever, Laura Theobald
This tiny book is as funny, sad, touching, and slightly puzzling as all good poetry should be. Laura Theobald’s poetic method adapts poetry-writing games like exquisite corpse for the iPhone era; all the poems in the pamphlet are written using iOs predictive text — when your iPhone suggests words that you might want to use next in a text. Because of the automated nature of the instrument, the results are obviously odd, but also surprisingly personal: what we see on the page is what the software thinks it has learned about her, how it tries to mimic her way of writing based on her texting history.
‘I’m at work. I love it when
you see my tweets. you can be used
for a few years. I love you so much
better now that I can see it as a result
of the best thing ever.’
The iOs patterns spontaneously project a persona for the poet that she has no control over. The result is as human as its method is mechanical – an immersive collage of speech fragments, a textual quilt of personal history.
Faber New Poets 14, Crispin Best
This book is for your older cousin – the one who broke up with his long-term girlfriend and is really good at acting like he’s keeping it together, even if everyone at the dinner table knows he is this close to a breakdown. Crispin Best’s poetry is a balanced mix of meme-like lapidary lines that would make great twitter material (‘is it still brunch if i am alone’) and endearingly awkward New Sincerity that your cousin never knew he needed in his life:
caring about a person
is like asking a bagel
how to live
inviting a person to care about you is like
telling them to ‘take a seat’
and pointing at a month-old pretzel
(‘fao barack obama’).
This pamphlet’s oscillation between tongue-in-cheek schadenfreude and need for tenderness is what makes it a perfect post-break-up gift, but also the kind of book you will casually keep going back to. I know your cousin doesn’t really read poetry, but I promise this little book will make him laugh – and then that laugh will turn into sobbing tears, but the good, liberating kind. He needs that.
The Painter’s Dictionary, Jamie Limond
(Order directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org)
I will admit this short pamphlet seems to have very little to do with the internet, but that’s precisely what I think makes it so internet (lol but also #realtalk). Its utterly anachronistic premise makes the internet the big elephant in the page-room. It is not only an IRL, paper dictionary (what is this, pre-Google 20th century?), but it also claims to be a painter’s dictionary (how adorably nostalgic). Limond’s definition-poems are perfect for internet-dwelling readers: bite-sized, exploratory, brilliantly confessional:
The opposite of
thing and thing
Smelling And then not
The poems manage to explain the objective in terms of the subjective, to twist the intrinsically neutral premise of the dictionary into a collection of personal, sentimental minutia. It would make a great present for your artistically inclined cousin, or your sensitive parent.
Spy Kids Review, Joseph Parker Okay and Elijah Pearson
Spy Kids Review is the literary journal you need to buy if you’re already an internet poetry fan, are a closeted Americophile, want to keep up with new poetry (of course you do), but can’t resist the charm of the IRL format. It’s published by Joseph Parker Okay and Elijah Pearson, two big names in internet poetry (however paradoxical that might sound), who publish the very best of millennial New Sincerity under the guise of 2fast2house. This one, buy it for yourself – and prepare for a lot of emotions.
SPAM zine, Denise Bonetti
I may or may not be the editor of this one, but SPAM zine is the closest thing to post-internet Poetry IRL you will find in Scotland. It’s based in Glasgow, and and comes out three times a year – with a completely different theme and visual style for each issue. It has Facebook-comment poetry, Youtube-comment poetry, Snapchat poetry, iPhone-messaging poetry, Google Maps poetry, and pictures of Kanye West eating. It’s funny like odd memes but it has lots of highbrow literary references to appease your inner pretentious scholar (everyone needs a bit of that). We also throw mad parties sometimes, you should come to those too, after the holiday gifting.
Words by Denise Bonetti.
Disclaimer: Denise is also the editor of SPAM zine.