Escapril 2024, Day 2: "The Internet"

A poem constructed from auto-completed searches about the internet on Google.

Google search homepage with the words "the internet by john wesley stammers" in the search bar

The second day of Escapril 2024 was all about the internet. Initially, I attempted to create a blackout poem exploring my personal feelings when using the internet. I cut out a section from Uncut magazine and began blotting out huge chunks of the text with my Sharpie.

I first learnt about erasue poems at university, but it was the blackout poetry of Austin Kleon and the whiteout poetry of Mary Ruefle that inspired me to try it myself. Finding words that jump out at you, words that conjure new meanings and feelings when isolated from the text surrounding it, is a thrilling experience. There is also something delightfully intoxicating about the smell of the Sharpie as it hits your nose whilst you blacken the page in front of you.

But I frequently find myself dissatisfied with the end result. And that is what happened yesterday. So, I glued the finished poem into my journal and decided to try again with different material.

My second attempt was to be a digital blackout poem. I copied and pasted the lyrics to Childish Gambino's "Life: The Biggest Troll" into a Word document, changed the paper colour to yellow and took a white highlighter to the words I wished to isolate. If I saw it through to the end, I'd switch the paper colour to black and I would have made a blackout poem without the need to pulverise the tip of a Sharpie marker.

However, I quickly abandoned the poem. I wanted to excise the right lyrics to make a statement about trolling, but I wasn't making sufficient progess and time was ticking on day two.

I then recalled how I'd made my "suggestions for tories" poem, which was inspired by Brian Bilston's "Love in the Age of Google" – poems constructed entirely from auto-completed search results on Google.

I tried different words and phrasings, all including the word "internet", and kept a record of all the auto-completed search results I found interesting. I then rearranged some of my favourites into four line stanzas, trying to group them around a common theme, and then added in new lines to give the poem more structure. I tried to imagine who might ask the kind of questions I'd grouped together, and if they didn't ask Google then who would they put those kinds of questions to.

Here is the end result...

The Teacher challenges the Student…

how would you describe the internet
how would you explain the internet to a caveman
how would life be different without the internet
how would your life be without the internet

The Keyboard Philosopher muses to the Feed…

how long will the internet last
will the internet ever die
what if the internet disappeared
what if the internet shut down reddit

The Journalist pitches to the Editor…

why is the internet dangerous
why does the internet lie so much
the internet is not fun anymore
was the internet a mistake

The Scientist hypothesises to the Community…

is there a problem with the internet
how does the internet influence us
how will the internet be used in the future
how will the internet affect the future

The Anxious preaches to the Void…

the internet will soon replace books
the internet will die because of ai
the internet has ruined everything
the internet will go down

The Confused befuddles the Ignorant…

was the internet better back then
why does the internet love cats
why does andrea have to be at the internet café
the internet is not a big truck

The Expert implores the Politician to consider…

what will the internet be like in 50 years
how has the internet changed the English language
how has the internet accelerated globalisation
how has the internet changed the world

My arguments to You…

the internet is not ruining grammar
the internet is not real life
the internet is not making us stupid
the internet is about to get weird again

The Hopeful Activist reminds the Doubtful…

why the internet is good
why the internet is important
the internet has made society better
thank you
to the internet

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