Q; Margaret, I have described your work as “rigorously honed syntactical and etymological machines,” that are as domestic as they are conceptual, or in conversation with lyric desires as much as flarfist desires. Would you classify your own work as conceptual? Could you pledge association to flarf?
MC: I relate to minimalism and proceduralism, and have used selecting, framing and text-processing strategies intentionally to aerate grammar and redistribute syntax. I’ve harvested from the net, counted and used a lot of substitution procedures. These tactics go on always in relation to other poems and parts of series that do not operate this way, that in fact privilege writing from the imagination. Flarf is a trend I observe but do not mimic or extend, really; whatever continuity of Flarf’s outcomes found in my work has been generated within my handling of a counterpuntal banal and shallow piece with maximalist spread/leak in relation to segments that strive for affective lyric intensity and centripetal focus. I compose relationships among disparate poetic parts. I’d say my field is a lyric field within which these acerbic scores and gashes of the anti-lyric somehow stand in for the random, the belligerently chaotic, the boring, the ironic, the flat.
I really would not use the term machine in relation to my work, even though generatedness is obviously an important value, and engine is part of my lexicon. Cyborganics, sure, to reach for a body that is both natural and technologized: my interest in writing has to do with the relationship of parts to each other, of parts to their past or origins, of parts to their variant reappearances. It is/I am always interested in human relationship, and the relation of subjects to subjects. “Something inside me” takes for granted that there is, safely, something inside me, and it can be usefully lampooned, and it can also be a lung turned inside out to a life raft. I’m disturbingly sincere, often overtly concerned with grief, which I don’t think Flarf is.
SQ: I’m thinking of what many term Flarf’s limited range of responses, noting that, as you say, you are cognisant, perhaps even parallel in ways but not in that tradition. Wondering about the complicated relationships between humour, feminism, lyric, desire, and what you term “disturbingly sincere.” Is that a tactic or inscribed in DNA?
MC: This question makes me want to move into a resistant frame; let’s talk about writing as artistic practice instead of strategy. Tactics are the framework I use for teaching, yes, but not for poetry. What I am engaged in when writing and building poetry calls on the uncontained, unnamed, unknown as well as on the lost, missed and crushed, heard partially. I’m summoning, not reporting.
For the entire conversation, check out Harriet.