The term Flarf was coined by the poet Gary Sullivan, who also wrote the earliest Flarf poetry. "I found the word flarf online on a police blotter where some stoner had described marijuana as flarfy," says Mr. Sullivan, who appropriated the term for the new poetic style.
His description of a Flarf is as follows:
1. Flarf: A quality of intentional or unintentional "flarfiness." A kind of corrosive, cute, or cloying, awfulness. Wrong. Un-P.C. Out of control. "Not okay."
Flarf (2): The work of a community of poets dedicated to exploration of "flarfiness." Heavy usage of Google search results in the creation of poems, plays, etc., though not exclusively Google-based. Community in the sense that one example leads to another's reply-is, in some part, contingent upon community interaction of this sort. Poems created, revised, changed by others, incorporated, plagiarized, etc., in semi-public.
Flarf (3) (verb): To bring out the inherent awfulness, etc., of some pre-existing text.
Flarfy: To be wrong, awkward, stumbling, semi-coherent, fucked-up, un-P.C. To take unexpected turns; to be jarring. Doing what one is "not supposed to do."
The Flarf is an internet dependant form that combines unusual phrases from Google searches. It takes its raw material from a search involving wildly different terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "exquisite + corpse." A poem is created by cutting and pasting words from the search results page (none of the website links are followed).
The Farf aesthetic is irreverent, inappropriate, and deliberately discomforting. It is a poetry created from the entrails of the world wide web, preserving all the slang and messy syntax of its source material.
“Flarf is a hip, digital reaction to the kind of boring, genteel poetry” popular with everyday readers, says Marjorie Perloff, a poetry critic and professor emeritus of English at Stanford University. “You used to find it only in alternative spaces, but it has now moved into the art mainstream.”
Flarf verse has appeared in America's pre-eminent poetry magazine, Poetry.
So far, at least sixteen books of Flarf have been published—a flurry of them just in the past several years. Since 2006, the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan has held an annual three-day Flarf Festival that features poetry as well as "flarfy" music, theater, and film.
The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Whitney Museum in New York have held Flarf readings. Two Manhattan theaters have showcased Flarf poets. In April, New York City's Whitney Museum of American Art hosted its own Flarf reading. And in November, Washington, D.C.–based independent publisher Edge Books will release a four-hundred-page anthology, Flarf: An Anthology of Flarf, featuring the work of twenty-five to thirty poets.
I have to admit, I got a little carried away when it came to examples. I did two using the traditional Google search, but when I discovered that the Flarf has blossomed into an anything-goes style no longer restricted to Google searches—so long as it is novel and edgy—I did a Flarf based on Twitter, and one based on Facebook. But to read them, you’ll have to go HERE.
Search terms: Apocalypse + Kittens
Kittens are the new ninjas.
Check out this vicious cat killing spree!
Meet Hiromi, the shy artist;
her cat Vince, who has a secret;
her best friend Kitty ...
MEOW - YouTube
Its the kitten apocalypse!
under judgement. this is adult.
Animated zombie kittens!
Why the hell are you still reading?
Sorry for yesterday's absence.
What with the impending doomsday
tonight at 6:00pm.
A sign of the Apocalypse.
If you see these,
you're probably screwed.
Zombie apocalypse knowledge:
Bears are the Devil's kittens.
Search terms: Earth + Apocalypse
Earth is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
Tunguska centennial revives calls
for finding earthbound asteroids before they find us.
No kidding, one in three children fear earth apocalypse . . .
There's a new bogeyman lurking in the closet,
and this one isn't imaginary.
Welcome to the apocalypse.
Shocking accounts from ancient legends -
stunning scientific data reconstruct the details.
Earth under fire: Humanity's survival of the apocalypse.
Presenting astronomical and
geological evidence for cyclic cataclysms .
Apocalypse? Or, Earth rebirth?
Things that want to be . . .
Have any news that seems apocalyptic in any way?
Find the many faces of the apocalypse;
will the dead rule the Earth?
Livin' for the apocalypse.
People are completely delusional.
Or they're the people we'll be bowing down to.