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Flarf Poetry- Examples of Poetic Collages of Borrowed Words and Phrases

Updated on November 6, 2010

Intentionally Bad Poetry

The term flarf is attributed to cartoonist and experimental poet, Gary Sullivan, who began writing flarf in 2000 along with a small group of other experimental poets. Generally the term applies to poems constructed from borrowed bits, pieces and phrases from online sources such as Google. Words and phrases are combined, convoluted and generally stripped of all original meaning, resulting in interesting, funny and often irreverent bits of 'flarf'.

The writing of intentionally bad poetry came about when Gary Sullivan wrote a "bad" poem and submitted it to just to see what their response would be. As he suspected, they wrote him back with an offer to publish his poem. All he had to do was buy the anthology in which it would appear. Sharing the findings of his sting operation with fellow experimental poets, flarf was born. And the members of this new found group began submitting their own intentionally bad poems to online poetry magazines and sharing them with each other.

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." Gary Sullivan

Gary Sullivan

A portion of the poem submitted by Gary Sullivan to


Yeah, mm-hmm, it's true
big birds make
big doo! I got fire inside
my "huppa"-chimp(TM)
gonna be agreessive, greasy aw yeah god
wanna DOOT! DOOT!
Pffffffffffffffffffffffffft! hey!
oooh yeah baby gonna shake & bake then take
AWWWWWL your monee, honee (tee hee)

This is part of the response from -

"'Mm-hmm' was selected for publication because it sparks the imagination and provides the reader with a fresh, unique perspective on life. We believe it will add to the importance and appeal of this special edition.

And flarf was born.

K. Silem Mohammad

Exerpt from a flarf poem by K. Silem Mohammad

I have written a couple of poems about trees
poems about trees and snakes and lakes and birds
poems about nature and life in New England
I write crappy poems and eat babies
if you like poems about trees you’re in for a treat

when I get nervous I get hyper and bump into people
I read to them what MapQuest gave me
round during then in the mom seeker panties
to help me narrow down the slut thing word jobs
rawr I’m too stupid to be able to make my point clear

Katie Degentesh

For her collection, The Anger Scale, Katie Degentesh used questions from a psychological test as her source material.  By feeding lines such as "I sometimes tease animals"  and "I very much like hunting" into a search engine, she came up with material for her poems.

Cows are incredibly placid, sedentary animals when on the ice

but really they are gay nymphomaniacs

so big and bright that I will need to carve them

a juicy new watermelon.

They also dig pretend burrows

when a human doesn’t listen to what they are saying.

The fact remains that no cow has ever been proven to be a ghost or a spirit.

Things are good, good is sweet, and gnarly has

the musty reek that reminds me of the cow fetuses

I had to dissect a couple of months ago

Drew Gardner

An excerpt from Drew Gardner's As Dolphin's Languor

awe yea I open a photo album I found under my bed
uhhuh, The dusty, leather cover decaying and smelling of the years
awe yea baby Regrets mingling with my tears
as I methodically turn the pages, you see
I like to dress up in REALLY tight underwater pumpkin beavers...
and I take a deep, painful breath
Because staring back at me from the tattered oragami licences
oh baby yea Are black and white visions of faraway hearts uh huh
Mistakes where made and moments lost
But I take the blame all for myself


Submit a Comment
  • ShonEjai profile image


    8 years ago from California

    i'm so curious where the word "flarf" actually comes from - what two or three or more words did they combine. i think all poetry genres are interesting and allow for creativity. thanks for sharing.

  • lafenty profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from California

    Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  • Mike Lickteig profile image

    Mike Lickteig 

    9 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

    Flarf is actually pretty interesting stuff--the idea of writing to be intentionally bad yielded some fascinating work. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Sandyspider profile image

    Sandy Mertens 

    9 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    Enjoyed reading this.


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