#Rhizo14: Steal This Poem

As I work my way into the first week of a P2PU course around open learning and Rhizomatic Learning, I’ve been thinking again about who owns what in the digital landscape. This connects to the theme of “cheating as learning” in the first week and about the ways in which Terry Elliott and I have been remixing our words this week. I have another idea related to my classroom to write about another day.

Yesterday, during a writing time with students, I started this poem, trying to get at the heart of what it means to be a writer releasing a work into the wilds of the Internet. It became a nod towards Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book and the open culture of remixing and making meaning on your own terms. I tried to “perform” it in a the rhythm of a slam poem, with short rhymes and lines, and a quick pace.

I’d love to think of some cool way to represent the poem digitally beyond the podcast but my brain is empty right now. How about you? Wanna take my words and remix them? Wanna steal my poem? The invitation is there to do what you want with my words, including ignoring me.

Take a listen (you can download the file from Soundcloud, too):

 

Steal This Poem

Take these words
Steal this poem
NO — go on now –
make it your own
Break it / Fix it
Rip it apart / Remix it

Defy my intent
until all meaning is spent
and then use your tools and tricks
to rebuild it

Cheat my meaning in ways
that make sense to YOU -

Tinker against type
don’t believe my hype
I’m a painter not a poet
using words as ink as I write

I refuse to shackle this work
to paper or screen
or that nebulous world in-between
in hopes that maybe later YOU’LL appear;
watching my words tumble down the spine of my lies –
made up only to be broken / spoken / a token of truth

No, you’re no cheater
you’re a seeker
a keeper of stories in this literary landscape
just like me

So, go on:
Steal this poem
Give it a home
I’m already off writing something else
and I’ve left these words all alone
waiting here for YOU

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

9 Comments
  1. Next week in our (hopefully) Deleuzian module ‘Becoming an Educationalist’ we plan to look at poetry and prose – for the joy of it – and also to model critical analysis and discussion. NOW know which poem to offer for study – and to offer the stealing of the poem as another model of critical engagement! Cheers!

  2. wow, loved what you did here Kevin – and such an awesomely creative response. I note that you conclude that remixing isn’t actually ‘cheating’ (‘No, you’re no cheater/ you’re a seeker / a keeper of stories…’) – and I’m inclined to agree.
    I’ve seen a few thought provoking responses / critiques to the use of the term ‘cheating’ in relation to rhizomatic learning (e.g. Jenny Mackness’ posts). It’s something I’m still struggling with coming to a position on too, but I think ultimately it depends on context, expectations, and intent; it’s subjective. If you’re giving me permission to ‘steal’ your words, does it *actually* qualify as stealing? And are you just giving me permission to remix them into something new, or to actually take them and attribute them as my own? In many ways, use of the word ‘stealing’ in this context is as problematic as use of the word ‘cheating’ in learning. As Jenny points out in her post http://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/rhizomatic-learning-definitions-and-cheating/ Dave refers to ‘cheating’ more as finding your own path, rather than as plagiarism or stealing other people’s work – the same as the way I think you’re using the word ‘stealing’ here (which, actually makes it all the more clever!).

    Anyway, I love these types of poems and it’s a beautiful execution. And I guess trying to dissect your intent and meaning behind it is a form of remix – ripping it apart & examining it. Almost feel inspired enough to write a response in poetry too…hmm, let me think about that…

    • Thank you for all the kind words, and I love your thinking and ways to look at what I was trying to do (disclosure: I’m still trying to figure out what I was trying to do). I hope you tangle up my words and share them back with me.
      Kevin

  3. Well – used the poem in my class with some 24 students – and another class of 12 discussed it elsewhere. We were with your poem for about 75 minutes – all 24 students and 2 tutors – how many person hours is that? It was a lively, buzzy and engaged session. I doubt there will be much stealing – but boy did they get it! A most sophisticated engagements with different and complex notions of education (that we and #rhizo14 cover)- and so much more vivid and real than reading a more standard academic text on the topic. You’ve made a difference! I bet you always do :-D

  4. in true making mashing rhizo-branching-off (or maybe just because my mind and keyboarding fingers keep hopping around), this, Jenny’s post and the fascinating mesostomatic generator are now being mixed like sausage (but OK to watch this process) for an overdue Poets & Writers Picnic blog post…time move on, quickly now, before my mind jumps to food…too late…

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