Writing Prompt for Sat, Week 2: Investigatory Poetics: Found Text, Media and Commodity

Hi All,

Aside from giving me a short writeup of a up to a few paragraphs on how and whether information is a public space or space to be reclaimed, below is the writing prompt due for Saturday. Please bring these writings with you on Saturday, sending at very least the poem to me by Sat. eve after class. You can also send me the response to this above question–I encourage you to do so if you have it typed up. Attachments please.

See you Sat!

In Solidarity,


A reminder that as part of stuff to do this upcoming week–one of the two writing prompts I’ll give everyone between now and next Saturday. This is the assignment I briefly mentioned at end of class today.

By next Saturday write a poem of any length–emphasis on intention and attention over quantity of pages, words, etc–that

a) uses only appropriated (found) text, such as newspaper, online or no, commercial ad, memo, etc (can be more than one source, up to you);
and that

b) speaks to some interest you have in the commodification or privatization of space, in information AS potential or actual public or private space, a space to be investigated and reclaimed, as commodity to be turned inside out, etc.

Think about the Marx and our discussion, about the mediated way we interact with commodities, and about labor as hidden. Now think about/investigate how information flow (language, and who controls that language) might either facilitate or be one mechanism by which labor is hidden, or owned (privatized), and commodity driven (think advertising, for example, as a vehicle for increasing demand for commodity while occluding/hiding the labor behind that commodity).

How might you use various informational–ad, news, etc–sources that promote commodification as means to investigate, highlight, and maybe even critique those same sources? To “reclaim” that informational flow by way of framing it AS a poem? Here is one example of found work, written by poet and former student Jenny Paris: http://www.wheelhousemagazine.com/press/PARIS.pdf
This is all to give you some ideas; don’t overthink or worry about the prompt too much.
But do use as your models the Paris above, and the Zolf excerpt of the poem Human Resources and the Durback excerpt of her book Zine Chapbook–both involving source texts/found text, and for Zolf, chance operations using online language generators.

Remember, YOUR poem isn’t due till next Saturday, and we’ll be discussing/having lecture on Zolf, Durback, and continuing with Marx, on Wednesday. So any questions you may have, either about the poems or about the structure of the class, might be cleared up via that discussion, via us covering those poem handouts in class. The 3rd short text I will send you momentarily will also be helpful–a short article on poetic strategies of appropriation of mass media and other information, such as we see happening in the poems you received today. How might this be a conjoining of organizing/radical pedagogy and aesthetic/writing practice?
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