How to Write a Spam Comment Found Poem For Fun and Profit

14 Jun

And by profit, I mean some blog followers who may or may not be spambots themselves (no offense to those of you who are not spambots).

This post is inspired by a comment (in response to a weird spam poem about castles) that I received from a bonafide, flesh-and-blood person (probably) who occasionally comments on my blog and who often writes heartfelt, rich poetry over at Brighterdays Blog:

nice comment

While my fragile vanity would like to concur with this praise, Ms. Woodley is wrong on her first point.

Making spam comments found poetry is the easiest.

And while spam comment found poetry is kind of my thing and I shouldn’t be giving away all my trade secrets for free, I’m going to anyway.  Because it’s super fun, and I’d like to read somebody else’s spam poetry, too!

So here’s the tutorial.

Step 1:  Pick Your Poison

All spam comments are equal in absurdity, but some are more equal than others.  Observe:

Spam Comments

The first is too short and generic to do anything with.  The second is intriguing because of its assumed intimacy and the mystery of to what, exactly, our Polish spambot might be subscribing.

The third is a classic spam poem contender.  It starts with something that sounds real and deep (or as real and deep as a life insurance commercial, at least, which is pretty good for a spambot).

Pro Tip:  I usually pick a comment by its first line, but I do do a cursory viewing of the rest of the content to see if the poem will be sustainable.  Sometimes they just go too off course and have to be scrapped even though their first lines are gems.

And that’s why the fourth is my winner for this evening.  First-line-wise, I like #3 better, but overall, it sounds like a strange insurance-commercial politcal rant that somehow involves barbecue sauce, whereas #4 is faux-soulful and kind of like a very small essay written by someone who may or may not have had a stroke.

Step 2:  Copy and Paste That Sucker

Now we can look at it for line breaks.  This is where I read it again once or twice to get a feel for it.

I’ve gotta have it in distraction-free-writing mode so I can look at how my favorite parts look now and imagine how they might look later.

Looking at it this way, as a blob of text, I definitely know I want to do something with “providing well provided for” and “virtuous emerge waters,” and I will probably do some line breaks and/or stanza breaks to highlight them.

I might read it aloud* to see where I naturally want to pause and where it might throw a reader’s expectations if I did or didn’t pause.

Step 3:  Rough Draft

Line break where it feels good.

rough draft

I guess I’m kind of a traditionalist in these matters, so I do not add or subtract or rearrange words.  I will also allow myself to add dashes or numbering for the stanzas, but absolutely no other punctuation.

I do, also, get rid of any garbage.  For example, urls and languages I don’t understand (not to say that languages I don’t understand are garbage–I just wouldn’t feel comfortable using words I don’t understand in a poem because it would be really inauthentic.  I would be no better than a spambot if I fooled around with words I didn’t know).  Anyway, none of that here to worry about.

In this example, it’s all clean, and I like the way it looks on the page so far with some longer lines earlier on and a short stanza at the beginning as a kind of thesis statement for the whole piece.  Meaning is pretty much irrelevant in most of these, so I shoot for illuminating interesting sounds and images.

Step 4:  Final Draft*

Adjust.  Read aloud again.  Probably in Captain Janeway‘s voice.

Step 5:  Publish

But first, add an italicized snarky introductory comment at the top.

Step 6:  Found Poetry Party!

The whole process should take you like 25 minutes tops.

Now let’s all have a Found Poetry Party!

*Reading aloud and the entirety of step four are optional.  A lot of times, I submit a product pretty flippantly.

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6 Responses to “How to Write a Spam Comment Found Poem For Fun and Profit”

  1. silverscreenings 15 June 2013 at 11:24 AM #

    Thanks for the how-to guide! However, I do think you’re selling yourself a bit short here. I look at the spam comments i receive and always, always think: How would Alexandra format this into a poem?

    • TheBestofAlexandra 16 June 2013 at 12:41 PM #

      I’m not saying I don’t write good poetry because I do, of course. 😉 I’m just saying anybody can do a serviceable job. And that’s a really good point. You should totally pretend you’re me when you go to write your spam poetry. I forgot to mention that the most important step is to turn on some surf music!

  2. Charlene Woodley 16 June 2013 at 5:18 PM #

    I really enjoyed your post and I’m glad to have inspired it! I usually delete all spam comments without question, but you have now inspired me to try it so thanks for the tutorial…gotta go pull up some surf music now. 🙂

  3. excelsizeus 25 June 2014 at 5:43 PM #

    Reblogged this on Inklings and devlings and commented:
    Will give this a shot.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Found Poem: Kilimanjaro represents | I Started Late and Forgot the Dog. - 14 June 2013

    […] This little spambot ditty is the finished product from the tutorial. […]

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