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Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

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Wherein I Explain My Poems (Subtitled "In Praise of Newspapers")

One of the biggest things as a poet is that you want the text of the poem to speak for itself. It's sort of like a joke-- if you have to explain it; it's not much of a joke. I was most active as a poet-- touring, publishing, performing here in Chicago-- from the late 80s to the late 90s, and most of that time period was decidedly non-Internety for me.

As time goes by, and I seek to digitize the stuff I've done, I was struck by how much The New York Times has been the starting point for my poems. Basically all of them-- and nearly all of the ones I love with a passion-- started as a response to an amazing, crushing article in that paper, which I've had delivered to my home for decades now.

Yes, I pay for home delivery of my newspaper. Gladly. The miracles never cease. I pick it up in the morning, and unfold the machined crease, and read something gorgeous and horrible and think to myself, "this person wrote this last night!". And while I slept, printers printed and deliverers delivered and writers waited for their bylines. And they're smelling the same fresh print as me. And I am kindred, and I love them.

Whenever I teach poetry in schools, I hold up the paper from today, and I tell them, "Read this. If you can't fashion poems in all the time in the world that are half as good as what they filed on deadline, try harder. Get better."

I honestly can't stand poetry, and can barely stand poets. They're precious and cribbed. Poems today fall into the same rote rhymes and angry cadences. It's not even worth ranting over.

Reporters are the best poets writing today.

So anyway back to my poems. I thought that, given the marvelous archive of the paper of record, I have a chance to expand on my art, and do what's really been turning me on, art-wise, for a long time-- the acts of collection and documentation through time. And besides, I think I'm an internet artist. I'm not sure what that means yet, but I want it.

So tomorrow I'm going to start a new series called, "Wherein I Explain My Poems". The news peg for me here is that I've got a whole mess of poems recorded in the mid-90s that have pleased me to hear again. And I wondered about these poems, and how they started in the papers. And thought that they were, in large part, merely derivative works that ought to be credited properly. So, onward with that.

Meantime, you can hear the whole set of poems we recorded in California-- called "Crimson Nature of Blood"

Bird on the Illinois Prairie

Bird on the Illinois Prairie, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

I took this shot last Friday. See the whole set, including some red-winged blackbirds.

Wide Turns with Arrow Written in Grime

Maybe the best one yet.

Interesting Shame Event in LA

Not sure what this is all about-- the "Shame on Forest Lawn" event, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive.


Attention E-Policing Subscriber:

The following information pertains to an upcoming Special Event Permit Application recently filed with the Los Angeles Police Department Board of Police Commissioners. This notification is provided in an effort to minimize the impact the event(s) may have on your neighborhood and/or business. If you have any questions concerning the details of this event, please contact the applicant (below) or the Los Angeles Police Department, Special Events Permits Unit, at (213) 847-1640.

Shame on Forest Lawn

TIME 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
ASSEMBLY: 6300 Forest Lawn Drive
ROUTE: 6300 Forest Lawn Drive


Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.


EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.


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    • Wesley Willis Art
      Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
    • CTA Alerts
      Wireless notifications about service on the Chicago Transit Authority.
    • Wide Right Turn

      An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.
    • Derivative Works Art Manifesto
      Humans own their experience of copyrighted content.
    • Y!Q Link Generator
      Simple form for creating Y!Q links to add relevance, annotate text, and provide more sophisticated layers of meaning to web content.