By News & Resources Editor Martin Elwell. Send me your found poetry news.
Recently, The Paris Review featured Four Poems by Richard Milhous Nixon, from a chapbook compiled in 1974 by Jack S. Margolis. Margolis utilized language taken directly from the Watergate tapes to make some of Nixon’s best poems. Read more here.
You likely heard about the similarities between Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” and Sam Smith’s song “Stay With Me.” The discussion brings to mind many of the familiar arguments about appropriation, sampling and straight up theft. Last week at the A.V. Club, Alex McCown took on the issue, evoking great minds such as Carl Jung, T.S. Eliot and The Simpsons. It’s worth a read.
In “The Ecstasy Of Influence,” Jonathan Lethem spends 10 pages arguing that all art is an inseparable mix of originality and appropriation. The borrowing, the sampling, the conscious or unconscious use of another’s ideas, words, thoughts, and art in the service of one’s own is to be welcomed, not warned against. “Any text,” Lethem claims, “is woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages, which cut across it through and through in a vast stereophony.” He actually takes it even further: “The kernel, the soul—let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances—is plagiarism.” If we ourselves are made up of no more than the sum of our influences, if our very neurons and memories are just recombinants of a broader palette we only dimly understand our sampling of, then surely our artworks can be forgiven for doing the same?
Finally, in less controversial news, Porkbelly Press recently published a special edition anthology of Emily Dickinson inspired poems. The book is titled Emily, and it features FPR contributor Sarah Nichols, as well as FPR poetry editors E. Kristin Anderson, Sonja Johanson. Grab a copy here while they’re still available!
Included in this edition you’ll find works inspired sweet Emilie and found poetry pulled from bits of her lines & letters.