Spoetry or spoems are poetic verses made primarily from the subject lines of spam e-mail messages.
What is spoetry?[edit | edit source]
It is unknown as to when the first spoem was started as several writers and bloggers have claimed to have created the form. However, it is estimated that the idea began in 1999 as Satire Wire  held their first spam poetry writing contest in 2000 . Animator Don Hertzfeldt began writing spam poems in his production journal in 2004 . Translator Jorge Candeias wrote a “spoem” a day during a whole year, between the 5th of May 2003 and the 5th of May 2004, using spam subject lines as title and inspiration; these are in Portuguese, based on spam bylines mostly in English .
A book entitled Machine Language by endwar was published in 2005 by IZEN and was followed by Machine Language, Version 2.1 also by endwar in 2006. The latter edition includes a CD of spoetry read by Microsoft Sam and set to ambient musical sounds by Michael Truman who also tweaked the automated readings. Each edition indicates endwar as editor, but in the second edition he has admitted to using cut-up technique and having combined shorter pieces from the first edition, which lends more authorship to him in his creation. These pieces were also read at the opening of Blends & Bridges, a concrete and visual poetry show at Gallery 324 in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 1, 2006, by endwar with the sounds by Truman backing. The experimental poet, endwar, cites his own collaboration with Ficus Strangulensis, the experimental poet, in 1995, The Further Last Words of Dutch Schultz published by IZEN as an earlier experiment in generating random text poetry, in this case, the software altered text of the bizarre last words of Dutch Schultz as published in The New York Times in 1935, as well as the cut-up influences of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs and even the musicians Throbbing Gristle and David Bowie. The useful bits of spam for purposes of endwar's variation of spoetry, i.e., the part that is not the advertisement, but the random words assigned to trick spam filters, endwar calls "paratext". Interestingly, endwar indicates that, in his view, "the effect of the evolution of paratext is that computers are learning to talk to each other by in some sense imitating human texts."  The advertisements are the human-to-human conversation in the same email sources.
The creation of spoetry is similar to Gysin and Burroughs's cut-up technique in that individual subject lines of messages are pieced together in poetic form; making the creation of spoetry an exercise not in creativity as much as in having an eye for the unexpected.
Examples[edit | edit source]
Several examples of poetry created from spam can be found across the Internet.
What Can You Do in 3 Minutes?
Look out your window
Make a child happy
Groom those bushy eyebrows
Get residency in Panama
Lose 10 lbs.
Santa Claus catholic
Looking for medications
Your stocking stuffer
Smoking is harmful!
I do it because its fun
White Teeth Guaranteed
Memo: to My Pets
I know what you are doing
No, oh, that's just wrong
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- [intro to Machine Language, Version 2.1, endwar, IZEN, 2006]
- [intro to Machine Language, endwar, IZEN, 2005]
[edit | edit source]
- Article published in 2003 by the Harvard Business School Newspaper
- Article published in 2003 by BBC News
- Article published in 2004 by The Age (Australia)
- Article published in 2006 by The Guardian (United Kingdom)
- Anthology of Spam Poetry
- Spam Poetry
- Ben Myers' Spam Poetry
- Review of Ben Myers' Spam poetry book
- see journal entries from July 31, 2004 and April 22, 2004 by Don Hertzfeldt
- “Spam of the Day” in Flak Magazine’s The Splog
- Kristin Thomas' Spam Poetry
- Spoetry Site
- Site featuring dynamically generated rhyming couplets
- Article and samples published in 2007 by The Guardian
- Review of 'The Spam Anthology' published in 2007 by 3:AM Magazine
- 'The poetry of spam' September 29, 2006, Arts Hub US
- Andrew Gallix of The Guardian on the history of Spam Lit, July 2008
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