Below is last weekend’s Sunday Star-Times opinion column by Michael Laws, stripped down into a 12 line poem.
Now, I have to say, I started this game because I’m no fan of Laws’ work. I found that his columns contained such visceral intensity that they actually made better poetry than prose, and I thought it was funny to play around with his words and give them new meanings. But this week’s effort left me sober.
Perhaps that’s because I agree a little with the content of his original piece (which, believe me, is rare), or perhaps it’s because I’m from Christchurch (his subject was the earthquake and the way media have covered it). In any case, the poem below is called Disasater Porn and – as with other efforts – is made up entirely of Michael Laws’ words, in the order that he wrote them, but with most of the column cut out to create new meanings. (Read this for more weasily please-don’t-sue-me explanations of process).
Civilisation of ghoulish voyeurs
transfixed by horror. This awed awfulness.
Such genetic thirst for dreadful saturation,
for ghoulish excesses; clamouring for death.
Pressed again, the macabre town crier,
converting missing into dead,
agony amplified by the authorities – the poignant message?
Don’t let them watch telly.
Switch off your children.
Scoop, scoop in spades.
This isn’t reality.