Poetry spam


Now you may’ve heard of ‘poetry slams’ (confession: I’ve never been to one) so you may quibble at this post’s title: some mistake, surely?

But no, ‘poetry spam’ is what I meant. If you google Spam Lit or Spoetry or Found Literature you’ll get the gist — poems made from the nonsense titles or text in spams — or even the reverse, spam email text based on poetry.

I’m one of those sad people who trawl through my WordPress spam messages — to check if any genuine messages and comments have been mistakenly filtered out, you understand — and you may be one of those types too. Akismet (who despite the odd glitch efficiently sort out the gratuitous from the genuine) has recently netted five of these for me. (This is about average for every week or so, though it sometimes easily rises to double figures.) And while the spam comments didn’t fool me I found them strangely fascinating, with an enigmatic quality.

One was the standard “Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors…” We’ve all had those, haven’t we? We learn to blank them out, though not without some irritation. But what about this one, from a website calling itself Oddjobtool?

i carry on, however I not have desire to be whiner in addition nag us, it begins. Is this a cri de coeur, as I first thought? Or a commercial come on, as it surely must be? And yet, and yet… It goes on, with the layout slightly enhanced:

i find nice consumers. I have confidence
on their room to educate oneself about,
cultivate and also alteration for the better.

that one was exceptional for that it was
a lot more along for just about any little fine details
and beautiful breed of dog issues that the new film foregotten.

i realised i was knocked up ruben david that need be
thus corny for that measure also he really isn’t evil
in a sense he just as nice as mark links.

i jeff really made
the Rooster inside
book come to life.

Now isn’t that exceptional? It has alliteration (“beautiful breed” and “film for(e)gotten”), mysterious allusions (who are Ruben David, Mark Links and Jeff?) and hope for the future (“alteration for the better,” “just as nice” and “made the Rooster … come to life”). What more could you want in a poem? OK, maybe poetic sensibility, along with consistent spelling and punctuation.

On the other hand we have Loans for bad credit to thank for this motto-like epigram:

When we finally start to generate in our lives, we aimed at parking.

This — concise, precise and sibylline — is the precept by which I shall be living my life in future. I shall aim at parking.

 payday loans uk ? (the question mark is integral) have produced an almost perfect but absolutely no-nonsense haiku — if I split the final words between title and envoi:

payday loan
In charge lenders will
check that it’s possible to
repay an advance
– for instance, you.

Finally, Efren prefaces his/her/their message with the clue “a bloody mess”. I take this to mean that the comment is meant to be cryptic and that I’m invited to somehow decipher the code. This is my attempt (omitting the links and correcting the odd spelling mistake):

“boiled into a [soup] Denis …”
(This is a warning to Denis.)
“To the legacies that we will leave Denis and we shall not make into the Rocck [sic] this tack”
(“Tack” is a 18th-century term for ship’s biscuit, clearly another threat to go with the soup reference.)
“His eyes were wide and he was waving his arms excitedly [Denis]”
(Another warning as to what awaits the said Dennis.)
“Russia is a country where the czars are nominally all-powerful, Denis”
(Well, that says it all, doesn’t it?)

This is a model prose poem, albeit with a chilling story to tell, for those who have eyes to see and time on their hands.

Are you as intrigued as I was? If you are then there’s more at the Spam Poetry Institute website: they tell us that they are “an organization dedicated to collecting and preserving the fine literature created by the world’s spammers. Not only do these persistent individuals sell useful products like cable filters and international drivers’ licenses, they also know how to combine words in a very powerful way.” They go on to add, “We hope that you will browse our collection of special messages and that you will be as touched as we were when we first found these gems of imaginative composition.”

In the meantime, you too can have fun browsing your spam messages, searching out those almost forgotten gems that Akismet habitually denies us.

Just don’t try clicking on the links to congratulate the spammers on their literary acumen.


12 thoughts on “Poetry spam

  1. Wow! Thanks for this. I’ll use it the next time I teach a poetry class. I’ve asked students to create found poems, but I’ve never thought of suggesting spam messages as a source.

    1. You’re very welcome, Lizzie! It’s strange, I thought I’d independently discovered the poetic potential of spam comments, so was both disappointed and delighted to find the Spam Poetry Institute had got there first (by the judicious process of searching for “spam”+”poetry”).

  2. I checked my Spam folder after reading your post. Found this failed attempt at a haiku: “I like asics shoes. super style. high quality”.
    Your post is a good reminder that we can find beauty in all written words if we look hard enough.

  3. I guess that’s what representative artists do — find something to depict from a unique vantage point and decide the parameters they’re going to apply (frame, lighting, medium). The basis of all found art, I imagine, including found literature.

  4. Great post… I just want to state that I am also “one of those sad people who trawl through my WordPress spam messages – to check if any genuine messages and comments have been mistakenly filtered out”… Being that said, I wanted to say that I truly liked the way you have deconstructed those spam messages, trying to find out the literary value among and/or beyond them…
    Sometimes I came across spam messages that really stand out… Mainly because of their creativity!…
    All the best to you and thanks for sharing your clever insights and analysis on this topic. Aquileana 😀

    1. Thanks, Aquileana, for your kind words — good that you’ve got the eagle-eyed attributes of your mame to go shifting through your spam! Tell me, are you now also tempted to “reconstruct” the poetry you find there?

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