on noisy, incoherent, thuggish earth
is a tribe of lousy carpet weavers
trying to pattern their lives
it's not violence alone in the air
he fell for a mexican dancer
she searches for the mother who left her
an old woman she resembles
they say here, it's not for the kiddies
but this kid's applied for a job as an angel
a job dark, demanding
and he's already keeping busy
with a city making heroes of gangsters
How does the above poem sound to you? I wrote it, but you can argue that it is no creation of my own, because it is simply a mash-up of phrases taken from the 'G' and 'A' lists of a Movie Encyclopedia- a list of film titles and a one-line description of their stories. Conceptual poetry may not be everyone's cup of tea, but in the words of the Creative Writing professor who inspired this poem, 'writing has got to get up, make a move on and catch up with the changes of times.' An artist in 1969 said: “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” Well, the world is full of texts now- vast, unbelievable amounts of texts, and according to literary critic Marjorie Perloff, our notion of 'genius' is outdated. The changes brought on by the Internet mean it is no longer about what additional text you add to the world, but around the mastery of the incredible amounts of information available to us and its dissemination.
There is a course in the University of Pennsylvania called 'Uncreative Writing'. Students are penalised for showing any shred of originality. They re-type what has already been written, improve on it. They present essays written by other people and defend the arguments the essays hold. The result? By suppressing 'creativity', the students produce the most creative works. Because it is impossible to repress self expression. Even the way you reframe a piece of writing, what you chose to work on and how you chose to refine it, tells as much about yourself as a piece originally written by you.
What do you think?