Saturday, December 13, 2008

Poetic Relevance


"Relevance" is a concept that's coming up frequently in recent discussions of poetic value [such as this one from back in June by Mark Wallace (thanks for the comment, Mark), which addresses so many of the same points as mine that I feel like I unconsciously plagiarized large portions of it.]. Case in point: Kenneth Goldsmith's recent claim at the Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog in his post of June 6th, 2008:
Today, we have immense information-moving capabilities at our fingertips and new movements like Conceptual Writing or Flarf are the correct responses for our time. If writing is not taking these new conditions into its poetics, it simply cannot be considered contemporary.

Responses by Michael Robbins, Mark Ducharme, and others in the long string of comments (52 at last count) following the post containing this claim are particularly relevant to the question of relevance, bound up as it is here with the notion of the "contemporary."

In one of his own responses, Goldsmith asks, "Can one write an earnest poem about how the sunlight is hitting one's writing desk today? Certainly. Whether that gesture is contemporary--or even relevant--is another matter." Most of us are familiar with the terms of the argument being rehearsed here: an argument in which it is posited that certain forms of expression (or anti-expression) are more appropriate than others to the particularity of the postmodern present, by virtue of their capacity for acknowledging certain material facts of existence--especially facts related to the massive technologico-consumerist apparatus whose mechanisms, illusions, and tangible effects pervade our every waking moment. In this case, Goldsmith invokes the "immense information-moving capabilities" of the internet and related digital technologies.

There are a number of directions one could take in responding to Goldsmith's provocations. Although this is not my major concern in this post, I will point out quickly that he appears to assume a direct correspondence between the technological nature of the information-moving forces in question and the actual writing being produced by Flarf and Conceptualism: a correspondence, that is, in which the contemporary "relevance" of the compositional instrument is automatically carried over to the work as such. This is for me a problematic assumption, and not all that different in many ways from the assumptions informing Dan Hoy's April 2006 article in Jacket, an article accusing Flarf of internalizing the insidious corporate ethics of Google by using its search results as material for poetic collage. There seems to me to be a kind of magical thinking involved here. By the same logic, one might argue that Bruce Andrews' use of a paper-cutter in constructing his poetry (the example that launches Goldsmith's blogpost) infuses that poetry with some essential quality inherent in the paper-cutter's mechanicalness, a quality that reaches all the way into the complex labyrinth of factors involved in the paper-cutter's design, manufacture, marketing, and distribution, etc. All of this may be very interesting and even useful as a metaphoric mode of thought, but I hesitate to assign it any substantiality as a rigorous analysis of the way in which poetry transfers relevance from its means of production to its finished product.

In fact, if I were asked to point to an important difference between Flarf and Conceptualism, it might be Flarf's explicit consciousness--and implicit critique--of such magical thinking (that is, when technology like Google is even involved in Flarf, which it is not always), in comparison to Conceptualism's tendency to encourage the figural transposition of medium and message. This is, of course, debatable. But I am more concerned here today with the criterion of relevance itself: with its relation to technology, for example, or even more importantly, with the force of aesthetic necessity it insists on for itself. What is so relevant about relevance? Is there a compelling counterargument for poetic irrelevance? Does such an argument inevitably become another argument for relevance, albeit in a negative form?

Off the top of my head, here are a few of the criteria I'm used to seeing for what makes poetry "relevant," depending on whom you ask:

* social thematics: does the poetry involve issues which are judged to be of immediate importance in the lives of actual people (war, economics, human rights, sexual politics, race, etc.)?
* formal innovativeness: does the poetry signal its departure from past traditions of prosody, formatting, etc., so as to stimulate reader response in significant ways (note that "significant" here is subject to the same sort of interrogation as "relevant")?
* positioning within a given tradition or traditions: does the poetry situate itself in relation to other poetry or aesthetic practices that have for whatever reason been deemed "relevant" in such a way as to generate interested response (from a given readership, one that is perhaps taken for granted in advance)?

I could go on, but what these criteria have in common is that they all appeal to some relevance-imparting factor whose relevance is in turn dependent on some always-contingent judgment--a judgment which cannot be reduced and limited to a capacity on the part of the poetry itself to demonstrate its relevance autonomously. What would a capacity like this look like? And is Flarf or Conceptual Writing or any other "movement" specially qualified to exhibit such a capacity--more so, say, than confessional poetry, or protest poetry, or cowboy poetry? If so, why?

I would suggest (and I think I am on a similar train of thought here with Goldsmith) that the only way any poetry has ever exhibited its "relevance" is by entering a measurably wide arena of circulation and reception. Put simply, poetry becomes relevant by getting acknowledged and discussed by a great number of readers. Originally, I typed "read" instead of "acknowledged," but it really isn't even required that someone actually read the poetry; it simply needs to become visible, to assert its presence.

I would further suggest that there are currently two chief strategies for generating poetic relevance as here defined. One is quite familiar, and is authorized by most of the "legitimate" literary establishments in existence. That is the conferral of distinction upon poetry and poets in the form of honors: awards, publication, institutional appointment, and so forth. Relevance in this case is a pure, self-sustaining condition--for as long as the honor is in effect. That is, until the award money runs out, or the book gets remaindered, or the appointment is terminated. In every case, the degree of relevance is directly proportionate to the degree of publicity and acknowledgment attending the honor. At its outer reaches, the honor may undermine its own power to confer relevance: being Poet Laureate, for instance, is in many ways less relevant than having a solid contract with a medium-size press, because the press has at least some level of guaranteed readership sharing a common range of attention, whereas being a Laureate simply means occupying a position in which there are suddenly a hell of a lot more people who have absolutely no idea who you are.

The main cultural mechanism which attempts to train poets in acquiring this sort of relevance is the MFA program. Its success is either considerable or pitiful, depending on how much one can imagine being at stake within the terms as set therein.

The other chief strategy is more nebulous and unstable. Like the first strategy, it involves the manipulation of cultural capital, and the invention of categories of value where they may not have previously existed. Its primary difference from the first strategy is its attempt to draw authoritative force from a model based on "cult" status rather than "official" status. In some (most?) cases, however, it involves a good deal of piggy-backing on the first strategy--having an academic position that supports one's writing and research, for example, or accepting funds from the insanely well-endowed Poetry Foundation to write a blog column. This strategy often adopts a posture of antagonism toward the institutions which in part enable it. Like the first strategy, it often includes antagonism as well toward competitors, an antagonism which in both cases takes the illusory form of solidarity within one's own camp when in fact the competition is spread fairly equally between camps. One can see where this line of description is heading: toward the proposition that there is really very little difference between these two strategies.

Where does that leave us, then? We have outlined thus far two main paradigms of poetic relevance: one based on an external network of reference and topicality, and another based on an internal network of self-promotion. Omitted in both paradigms is any consideration of what might make poetry per se a unique conductor of relevance, one that does things which cannot be done in journalism or corporate branding or ice skating or origami. To return to Goldsmith's example, what is there in a poem about the sunlight hitting a writing desk that either is or is not relevant, and why? The question gets asked a lot, but rarely answered: relevant to what?

My hunch is that any useful account of poetic relevance must involve both the internal and external axes discussed above. Reference and/or formal markers must interact dynamically with whatever system of social circulation they are inserted into. If a poem about sunlight on a desk is to be relevant, it must have a context for reception among a set of readers who are appreciably qualified to gauge its effectiveness on any number of thematic or structural levels, and to situate that effectiveness in relation to some additional evaluative factor based on the poem's usefulness in sustaining a social aesthetic. That is, it must succeed for these readers both as a more or less isolated signifying construct and as an instrumental playing piece in some larger, more abstract cultural game.

And even this inches us toward the conclusion that relevance, as an index of poetic value, is a red herring--or, more accurately, a MacGuffin. It is a motivating concern, but not one that can reliably be retrieved at the end of the poetic process. What finally emerges is not any one definition of relevance, but simply the requirement that at some point along the line, someone was invested in the idea of relevance.

Flarf and Conceptualism tend to share one standard of relevance at least: that the writing should exist in a particular relation to the contemporary--specifically, the late capitalist contemporary as experienced by those who have some stake in the privileges conferred by that contemporary at the same time that they are exploited by it (i.e., by far the majority of people who will ever read this post). Perhaps both movements provide a way for this bourgeoisie to write consciously and honestly within this condition. This form of honest consciousness is monstrous, of course, and many on either side might wish, for different but equally understandable reasons, that the bourgeoisie would either write less honestly and consciously, or that they would not write at all. For those who would wish the former, the only appropriate response is contemptuous pity. For those who would wish the latter, one can only declare one's selfish unwillingness to step off the cliff one second sooner than they are forced to do so by the angry, swarming masses.

Where, then, do Flarf and Conceptualism part ways? Which is the more relevant, more "correct" choice? Flarf, of course. Flarf and Conceptualism have the same admirers and detractors, by and large, and in most cases the detractors are the best evidence in either movement's favor. But even Marjorie Perloff doesn't get Flarf. It must be ahead of its time.

34 comments:

mark wallace said...

A blog post I made back in June about relevance turned up a number of interesting responses. Rather than repeat myself and the conversation, here's the link:

http://wallacethinksagain.blogspot.com/2008/06/relevance.html

K. Silem Mohammad said...

Thanks, Mark. I've added a bracketed note in my post.

Nada said...

I think you spelled it wrong, Kasey. It's "revelance."

Anne Boyer said...

But aren't the types of "relevance" you point out pretty limited to a certain kind of American poetry at this point of history?

At different times and different places, there is a different standard for relevance, one which has something to do with actually motivating human behavior -- thinking, for example, of Allen Ginsberg inspiring thousands to attempt to levitate the pentagon, or how the Russians trek to the houses of dead poets as if these are religious shrines, or how the Yemeni use poetry to solve political disputes, or how Debord's lived poetry motivated 68.

Poetry can also be relevant in its ability to provide some psychological succor, and this is a relevance that happens by interacting with the text (rather than just knowing a poet's name, or general facts about their work). This is still "contingent judgment," but it exists so much outside of the legitimation machine / antagonism to the legitimation machine.

Poetry can be (even now) (at least for the still tender among us) one of the great escapes from the traps and binaries of received thought, a kind of intimate line between one stranger and the next that refuses categories or facile descriptions. Or at least this is what one might hope to get from it.

I find myself pretty alienated when reading a lot of contemporary poetry, on grounds that it is "irrelevant," but this has so little to do with its institutional positioning, except in the sense that people with different positions seem to embody similar, typical fears that limit their work. Or rather, wouldn't it be interesting also to imagine a standard for relevance that one can apply to texts, rather than the social positions of those who make them? and to acknowledge that this has a little something to do with
"reading" and aesthetic experience?

phaneronoemikon said...

"Real events are always relevant,"
said leering Steven. When stevedores
open strange unmarked boxes in the
pallor and vocacotous fog of the morning's hieroglyph, a beam of strugging paranymphs imbroglio the crate's krater like cracks.

GIVE ME CRACK!
every instance
of any instance
is its own

overwhelmingly perfect
and unique
for eternity
'krater'

"I hate that," said John Merrick,
but Merit, or Relevance
is eternal and exists in all things
[perhaps]
except poetry.

Because poetry has spoken its own name, you see it's curse..

It should have just said

[SUNGLASS-MOD-KRATER]

which is a real event
and because of that

of some magnitude...

wv: psicats

Paul Squires said...

That's all very well but isn't relevance a transitive verb? Relevant to what?

Steve said...

Yes, I ask with Paul, also, "relevant to What" and "relevant to Whom."

And what about Poet Jo(a)n Doenne out there in Isolation-ville aspiring to be neither relevant to Lit History nor relevant to others contemporary?

Surely s/he writes for different reasons. Okay, I suppose s/he doesn't play into this question range, so scrap that.

Iain said...

It seems like Goldsmith feels his work is most relevant because it he thinks it most engages with the Internet's formal capacities. Why is what artists are purposefully doing with technology particularly more interesting than the way technology affects art and culture unintentionally?

Using Mcluhan's example of the lightbulb as media: Why would reflective surfaces be particularly more interesting than opaque ones? Or translucent objects? Or porous, or shaded objects? What's "relevant" is the environment created by the light itself. Why should every object be a mirror? Is what hides light any less "telling"?

I think it's interesting that the real reason Kenny's poetry is so offensive to a portion of the poetry world is because it actively resists capitalistic ideas of product and authorship. At the same time, he claims to be pro-capitalist and apolitical. In the end his work is relevant for what it actually does rather than what he intends it to do.

Matt said...

"That's all very well but isn't relevance a transitive verb? Relevant to what?"

Relevance is a noun.

Jordan said...

I like this. I had read that you were proselytizing for flarf (despite the repeated warnings from the Council) and had expected to see you railing from an elevated Flarfing booth in the middle of the street. In fact, as usual, you are only trying to describe the source of so much pain in poetryland -- the shared and half-articulated beliefs that motivate all the separate actors, and keep them separated and unwilling to admit that they read each other.

mongibeddu said...

"Relevance" is a paradoxical criterion of judgment: it loses value when it gains meaning. By which I mean: any work is potentially relevant to something, hence the only way to rank different works is to judge their relevance with regard to something specific. Unfortunately, specifying the context narrows the scope, which fundamentally alters the judgment. If one claims, for instance, that "Conceptual Poetry is the most relevant body of work being produced today," one is saying more and yet meaning less than, oh, "Kenneth Goldsmith is the most relevant poet for those concerned with the ontology of art." Though I'm not sure even that last statement is true. "Most" being the problem, as ever: it's like a zero put in the wrong column when adding up receipts.

Fewer claims, more specifying. Which is why I like what Anne said.

Ben F.

Jordan said...

Related-unrelated.

Ryan said...

There are people who find Kenny's work offensive?

Joe said...

I liked flarf better when it was "innapropriate" "wrong" and "out-of-control" etc. This new "relevant" and "correct" flarf is kind of boring.

Cheryl said...

Hmmm... a lot of Goldsmith here. But what about the other conceptualists? Christian Bok? Craig Dworkin? Relevant or not so much as Goldsmith?

Laura Carter said...

This is interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relevance_theory.

James said...

Relevance is nothing more than solipsism misinterpreted as reality. And that includes this statement, too.

kyle simonsen said...

lawling out of control at james.

but seriously,

poetry is relevant?

no one i know who doesn't write poetry can name more than two living, breathing, writing (singing, dancing, etc.) poets. and, sadly, that actually applies to most of the people i know personally who do write poetry.

by asking "what sort of poetry is relevant" instead of "how can poetry assert its relevance" we're really condeming ourselves to irrelevance (imagine that!)

Henry Gould said...

"Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" - T.S. Eliot

Henry Gould said...

I'd like to address the issues you raise, Kasey, in your penultimate paragraph (the one beginning : "Flarf and Conceptualism tend to share one standard of relevance at least...").

Here it seems you provide your own interpretation of relevance, which is actually the standard colloquial sense of the term (ie. something is relevant when it says or does something useful in relation to contemporary events & society).

I would say your attitude toward the relation between poetry & relevance is "Simonidean". Simonides, as you probably know, is known as the first "professional" poet - the poet who calculated the rhetorical arc of each literary projectile toward its intended (& paying) audience.

This was controversial then, & still is now, since there are all kinds of forces & people striving to uphold the special, sacred status of poetry, as a function of the sacred strata of culture, deserving of special institutional recognition & support. Simonides was a poet-businessman, an independent literary entrepreneur. His poems were for sale; they were products specifically designed as uniquely "relevant" to their (aristocratic) clientele.

Your penultimate paragraph makes clear that you have gauged a certain audience for your brand of poetry; you have measured its characteristic social & cultural habits & milieu; and you are concerned to produce a product relevant to that particular audience. This is very Simonidean.

But I think there is another way to think about "poetic production". In this version, the poet assumes that 1) communication is a given, and happens in a kind of exponentially-fertile, uncontrollable process; 2) human beings are the communicative animal par excellence, and there are far more transfers of messages between them - a kind of communicative immediacy - than can ever be controlled by a rhetorical channeling device; 3) since the poet can assume 1 & 2, he or she can focus on an intellectual/emotional/moral/aesthetic problem per se, for which the art work is a kind of solution or "resolution" (hence Yeats' distinction between arguing with others - rhetoric, and with ourselves - poetry).

I understand that many of the most interesting aspects of an artwork evolve out of the artist's effort to grapple with the very terms of communication themselves. But I think that the reason these works REMAIN interesting is not so much because the artist succeeded in seeming relevant to a particular clientele, but because the artist so resolved those communicative issues such that he or she could move on to the really interesting themes or problems addressed int he work itself.

Ryan said...

Is it too twee or naive to say that poetry is relevant to me, and I'm wondering if that isn't where the relevance lies, in practice?

Since this relevance is the relevance in performing for a receptive audience, and one who deems your work as having some resonance with them, this latter than might be a better term for it; relevance meaning what Henry is getting at above.

almost said...

If one agrees that effective poetry evokes a 'defamiliarization' of the self by revealing the lack of a saussurian 'signified' for the 'signifier' that is the self (however abstractly), one might also agree that poetic relevance can be gauged by the ubiquity of a innovative method or crucial cultural allusion used by a work to effect this "defamiliarization" within a given readership.

Jordan said...

> If one agrees

Big if.

Ryan said...

@ almost,

You're echoing Ernesto Sabato's statement that writing serves to integrate the writer, the "sole", into humankind; not only does Sabato say that art is that attempt at integration, but that art is one of the only methods to achieve a reconciliation between self and society.

Still though, big IF: there's always a writer, and individual, behind the writing. Flarf, appropriated from the google "owners" who algorithmize and "sort," then becomes property of those who write it (Here I'm thinking of Katie Degentesh's THE ANGER SCALE). And everyone knows Kenneth Goldsmith "wrote" DAY...

The most debated work by the most debated author, Yasusada, is the one effort in the recent past where the author's attempt at obscuring authorship brought about the greatest amount of attention. Certainly, the anger many showed toward Kent Johnson was based on the relevance of the subject of DOUBLED FLOWERING.

So I guess I'm not sure about the attempts at defamiliarizing the self, or whether these examples are indicative of that. It does seem though, that the author is the greatest signifier of any artistic work, and that an attempt to distract or obscure this signifier doesn't necessarily "defamiliarize."

almost said...

@Ryan
"the author is the greatest signifier of any artistic work, and that an attempt to distract or obscure this signifier doesn't necessarily "defamiliarize.""

See: The Death Of The Author

Also, please read and understand a comment before replying to it. This pains me.

Matt said...

Everybody stop paining almost. It'll be okay almost, stick with me. We'll get through this almost.

Ryan said...

Almost's dismissal of my post, and reference to Sabato, is as disturbing as his assumption that I don't know Barthes. I find this disconcerting that, simply because Sabato is ignored as part of a dominant canon, he doesn't get his say. Surely I was merely pointing out that Sabato's ideas on integration predate Barthes, and that the latter probably knew about Sabato would be of no surprise. The question is, does Almost know Sabato? Is his dismissal based on an almost state of ignorance?

Well I won't dismiss you, almost.

Here's another question: do you think that Barthes meant what he said? Was he being..um...sincere? Barthes relevance now certainly won't be forever; but readers of Barthes seek very much to locate Barthes within a particular time period and conversation with other writers at the time (I'm thinking of Barthes interplay/conflict with Sartre in Writing Degree Zero)...doesn't Barthes theory of the death of the author render irrelevant readers' attempts to understand his work through a historical understanding of the time in which he wrote?

almost said...

Nothing I said echoes Sabato's idea of "writing to integrate the writer."
I was referring to a reader categorizing a work as art through subjetively positive alienation that results from an unmasking of the tryadic nature of one human's self to the signifier "self."
Then it's just a matter of Britney Spears vs. Bing Crosby. Or Dada antics with type vs. "Issue 1." Or the beautiful fart of laughter that sqeezed from my eyes when K. posted that altered picture of J.Livingston Seagull vs. hearing a 75 year old professor laugh at the new Indiana Jones movie. We are all going to die.

The idea that an author is the greatest signifier of any work is like walking into a tavern in 1498 and asking to use the rubber glove with aids on it

Ryan said...

"The idea that an author is the greatest signifier of any work is like walking into a tavern in 1498 and asking to use the rubber glove with aids on it"

*raucous laughter*

Touche.

Ryan said...

"You can forget about it and be happy"


delete his or her insipid prating,
we’re all going to die
This pains me
but for Truth and Beauty
ridiculously inflated 1923 voice
don’t not displease me; delete
a concept that's coming up
fingertips and new movements…projectile!
insidious corporate ethics
I'd like to address the issues
known as the first penultimate poet
controlled by a rhetorical channeling device
aRGH! REMAIN interesting
relevance can be gauged
Nothing I said echoes
This pains me
The greatest signifier
the rubber glove with aids on it
we’re all going to die
for Truth and Beauty
a tavern

Gelo said...

Is Marjorie Perloff (still) relevant?

--Angelo Suarez

tmorange said...

Put simply, poetry becomes relevant by getting acknowledged and discussed by a great number of readers.[...] it simply needs to become visible, to assert its presence.

i'm struck by how strangely (and i think erroneously) passive most of these verb constructions are: "becomes relevant," "gets acknowledged and discussed," "becomes visible." is there some invisible hand or magic wand that's doing the acknowledging and discussing, that's enabling or encouraging the becoming? there is essentially no agency and no power dynamic ascribed here.

there are hints of such ascription later...

If a poem about sunlight on a desk is to be relevant, it must have a context for reception among a set of readers who are appreciably qualified to gauge its effectiveness on any number of thematic or structural levels, and to situate that effectiveness in relation to some additional evaluative factor based on the poem's usefulness in sustaining a social aesthetic.

...but again there are numerous questions about actors, agency and power dynamics begged by such an account: what are this context's origins and contours? who is this set of readers? how are its ranks determined? what are its qualifications? how are those determined? by what criteria do these readers gauge the poem's effectiveness? what is this "additional evaluative factor"? what is a poem's "usefulness"? what is a "social aesthetic" and how is it sustained?

K. Silem Mohammad said...

Tom, I wonder if you're making things more complicated than they really need to be. In answer to your first objection, I believe I can change the verbs in my sentence from passive to active without altering its meaning very much:

"When a number of readers acknowledge and discuss poetry, they confer relevance upon it ... they make it visible, assert its presence."

As for the other questions you raise--well, yes, these are valid questions. But I don't think I need to come up with specific answers to all of them in order to uphold the reasonableness of my proposition: that communities of readers do in fact set criteria for how texts will be judged relevant or not, and that these criteria succeed or fail according to how well they sustain continued evaluative activity within that community.

By "additional evaluative factor" I simply mean that the text not only meets all the criteria stipulated by the community in advance (e.g., that imagery be organized in a certain way, or that the text contain references to certain concepts, or whatever), but it does so in a subtle and complex enough way that it is able to keep the community busy arguing over and qualifying and reconsidering said criteria. The total process thus described is the "social aesthetic."

The real objection one could make to all of this is that it implies a static circularity inherent in the very notion of poetic relevance, a circularity that is never fully dispelled by the insertion of the "additional evaluative factor," though that is its purpose.

I think, finally, that the question raised by several readers here and elsewhere is the right one: "relevant to what"? (The implication being that that "what" is always going to be different depending on which reader or community of readers we're talking about. Or in other words, the real question isn't which poetry is relevant, but which readers are relevant. And to what.

Meg said...

Hmm.

Nada said something quite interesting to me...that you'd misspelled relevence and should have spelled revelance.

Or could it be we mean irreverent?


And Mr. K Silem is quoted as having said:

"don't make it harder than it has to be"

Indeed. Or more novel.

Relevance means the relationship one thing has to another.

Revelance means the relationship a bit of information has to the case. It could be a hidden principle involved. Perhaps Ms. Gordon is correct in her assertion which I do believe might actually have been accidental.

Reverence on the other hand and in contrast to be 'irreverent' is to completely dispose of or retain, a constant position in relationship to what might be considered an "ideal" or better yet, a "norm".

I'd say the little bit of Flarf that I've actually read...and I'd say that it is precious little...is more about book covers and the innovative impulse it wants to have but will have to abdicate because the thief called time will inevitably squash the notions of anything that is not actual "truth".

Since you have mentioned "truth" in your definition of what makes Flarf flarfy.

It's a big notion that old truth thing.

As our knowledge increases...truth stays the same. That is what makes it truth and any poetic device that hopes to capture truth will always be outwitted by the spectrum of "knowledge".

When knowledge increases...the speed of light approached....and vice versa, when knowledge decreases (in society say)....the speed of light (truth) stays the same only seems farther away and it takes longer to get there.

Flarf isn't any closer to truth than the next product. It's about the same because the "norm" of society and/or the "norm" of the microcosm called poetry/poets is a pool of societal consciousness.

It isn't any wonder then that when a poet travels to other climes, they tend to produce more fufilling works (and eat tastier dishes).

Like any hero...a Flarfist ought to set their sights on going where "no many has gone"

The star trek poem?

...and then bring it back to their society (whatever or wherever that might be)...

same ole same ole hero with a thousand faces type of things

voila lo behold

Alas. And save poetry or the world...or at least preserve the idea that the poet has in their head:

Remember me!@yahoo.com

..in the constantly disappearing world (the net has made it even worse).