Floating Wolf Quarterly supply every strand of modern poetry in electronic short form, with a commendable success rate. As their name suggests, they put out a couple of new chapbooks each quarter; of the current offerings, American Boys by Alex Dimitrov is my favourite. Inevitably preoccupied with love in all its forms, Dimitrov's poems have a quiet, sighing rhythm that you'll be glad you spent an afternoon with.
I fear I might be over simplifying, but I felt like American Boys was a celebration of the ephemeral, even introducing itself with a poem enticing you to kill the one who threatens to tie you down;
Kill your boyfriends—kill your boyfriends, ladies.
While they kiss you, just before they say
"I'm close," just before they can forget to miss you.
from Kill Your Boyfriends
The pamphlet becomes a sort of scrapbook in its preservation of grindr screenshots, facebook pictures and inane OK Cupid personality quizzes, which endow it with somewhat voyeuristic human interest. The sense you get of Dimitrov being generous with his own life may be false; the last page of the book is a screenshot of an iphone conversation in which he admits that his poems are only confessional when he's lying, which is, 'all the time'. What then to make of the grindr conversations and their supposed confidentiality? I enjoyed the sense that a poem was only sometimes the best way to capture an encounter - online dating exchanges can often be perfect in themselves, and not need elaborating or codifying. Whether Dimitrov has altered, or even written these conversations, they convey that uncertain time between being strangers and becoming connected, (however briefly), in a way I'm not sure a poem could entirely manage.
Basic Cable Couplets by Larry O. Dean is inspired by a very different found form - TV movie synopses. I can relate entirely to this obsession; film synopses have such a fascinating set of conventions that they offer endless entertainment, independent of the films they describe. O. Dean is unclear as to his exact role in manipulating this found text, saying only that it is 'adapted/modified from, and/or inspired by film listings'. The poems feel as though a cutting and pasting process has taken place; each couplet looks to be made up of two unrelated pieces of text juxtaposed for a particular effect.
Because she's narcoleptic, Cassie has no problem falling asleep.Here, it looks as though O.Dean has juxtaposed lines from two different listings to create an embryonic character. The couplet follows the same logic as any film listing, stressing the inherent absurdity of the format whilst simultaneously creating a perfectly compact poem.
She is a part-time employee at a local massage parlor. She is also a killer.
Curt, an oddball local fireman and umpire, was a suave, successful businessman, and she was his exotic, adoring lover.In each case, the two lines set up and briefly expand on a premise that the reader can then develop much more imaginatively than the film in question, which may as well not exist. The pamphlet makes for compulsive reading - it's also a fantastic source of inspiration for anyone thinking of using found language in their own work.
The two pals soon make a weight-loss pact that spirals out of control.
Read 'American Boys' by Alex Dimitrov
Read 'Basic Cable Couplets' by Larry O. Dean