Lee Patterson is one of the first poets I’m reviewing from my neck of the woods, the tri-state metropolitan area. While he does live in Madison, NJ I won’t hold his NJ roots against him, as some of my favorite people are from New Jersey. In fact, there’s a certain weird charm I feel every time I take NJ transit on one of my many trips to that exotic land.
What Lee does is quite clear: he delves into regular poetry on his more traditional poetry blog and engages with Flarf poetry (poetry derived partly or entirely from the internet on his larger, more updated blog). I find it interesting how he felt the need to divide the two into two separate blogs as I feel internet writing can often be just as good, if not better, than what counts as ‘officially published’ writing. Besides maintaining these two blogs, he has been published in “The Columbia Review” and “West 10th”. Having become aware of him through Steve Roggenbuck’s #poetrybyemilydickinson project, something tailor-made for his interests, most of my focus will center on his No Name Key blog which gives me more information.
Beginning with the “Independence Day Rain” he shows a certain flair for the readymade nature of Flarf poetry. Managing to avoid sounding forced or unnecessarily pointing attention to their origins, he creates the illusion of a relationship between the two characters in the poem. It’s sort of unusual, but I enjoy seeing the language used outside of context to create something more substantial.
One of my favorites has to be his only December poem called “Amazing Bundler Opiating”. In this he shows off one of the results of too much Google information. Cobbled together is information about an amazing Christian rock band, dissatisfaction on Obama’s healthcare plan, Opium, and the Taliban. None of that should make sense together, but a reader’s external information about any of those events or ideas is virtually unavoidable. A reader can manage to make sense out of it; much in the same way our brains are wired to understand words without vowels or with slight misspellings.
“I can smell your Heirlooms from here” is great for other reasons. He takes all these internet phenomena and creates a situation, a story. Originally starting with a de-friended friend on Facebook, the narrator tells us about how this awful Facebook friend once slipped acid in his beer. As he begins freaking out he thinks of ‘you’, a person never defined. Smelling heirlooms and the description of synesthesia gives it a surreal quality.
For his less-internet based poetry, I’d say the title poem of “Anonimo Key” is the best of the bunch. I’ve never been to the Florida Keys but I enjoyed the feel of the words and confusion chosen. Now that I haven’t been on a road trip for such a long time I kind of miss the bizarre nature of getting lost in new places, rather than getting lost in vaguely familiar places, which is far more common with me.
Strangely, I like both forms. Obviously I have a focus on here of internet based poetry, but I appreciated the fact he tried to differentiate between the two forms. That way I get a better idea of what the process must be. Having read both, I’d be interested in how one is decided for one or the other blog, what the criteria is for an ‘internet based’ versus ‘writing based’ poem, since so much of what I read and process is mostly through the internet at this point. I guess not knowing makes it more interesting.