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Review: 3by3by3

July 21, 2011 - by Adam Vatterott

Each month the bland-looking but guffaw-producing blog 3by3by3, launched in 2006, features poems composed using a specific recipe: “Pick 3 stories from Google News. Using only words that occur in the first 3 paragraphs of each story, make a poem with 3 stanzas, 3 lines each, no more than 60 characters per line. The 3-word title should use a word from each story.” Links to word scramblers and algorithms that play with text expedite the process.

Thus, you get poems such as “Beyond the Catskills,” by Scott H. Stoller:

I’ve been to college.
I understand well the physics of flypaper,
and other vast amorphous concepts.

I know how to sing “Hey Jude” backwards,
while carrying spiders down fire escape ladders.
I’m irreplaceable . . . patiently waiting next door.

Let’s ban hide and seek. Let’s face jail time.
Let’s cause intense emotional distress.
Let’s be quirky. Let’s tiptoe together towards infinity.

After each poem are links to the three news stories used as word banks. I checked out the headlines after reading the very thematic “The Memory Suicide.” Here’s stanza one:

It’s a little shocking to lose parts of us:
the painful memories and iconic moments
erased in the sunshine of a city beach.

The Brain Candyesque article referenced, “Pill could erase painful memories, study shows,” is far different from the poem, but a unique dynamic emerges. The poet leaves footprints, allowing the reader to consider the source of a poet’s inspiration. Or just catch up on current events.

The recipe promotes concrete imagery—sometimes intriguing, such as the line “The theory of engineers says, this year the clock will be / the symbol for all objects” from “Humiliation All Around,” and other times bizarre and humorous, such as the whole of “Preparing Statement Tentacle.”

Run over to 3by3by3 and read three poems. Or read one poem three times. Or just stay here and thumb-twiddle for three minutes. Meanwhile, I’m going to give this newfangled poetry cooking a shot.

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