ISSUE FIVE: My Laser Style | next poem →

Alan Lomax Translation No. 1:

Nimrod Workman, "Mother Jones Will" (1983)

Sean M. Conrey

Where Obama Wacom Mahmud Cheri
marrow go on back to you
Omar Brown like you of a call for a proper are you
Yumm called on all words Mother Jo
Review, yes I know it's Mother Jo
Yes I know it's Mother Jo, where.

Killed our mermaid
The 10-year Guare Arnold Palmer
That program around mom
Through your 10 or own car
Saying "Me, who or a car,"
Plane meaning armor
and actor or armored green.

Now walk back you live at all
barman I'll OMG all proper
Year dunno words my other girl
You no word Mother Jo
You no word Mother Jo, rear.

And go you we have too much there. I had a shotgun you know darker young. I'll local were here rogue or the Miro's work tomorrow already per week. I liked it. Mean like no look at going all Ruby. That happen are great real work people were a career, or and very if you would bad, very very very there.

Sean M. Conrey is an assistant director in the Project Advance program at Syracuse University, where he teaches in the English and Textual Studies department. His first full length book of poetry, The Word in Edgewise, was published by Brick Road Poetry Press in 2014.

Poet's note: Alan Lomax's complete audio and video recordings have recently been made available online and with those recordings a series of Youtube channels have been created to host video selections from his visits to the Mississippi Delta and Hill Country, Appalachia, Louisiana and elsewhere, presumably to widen the reach of the archives (which are available in a more complete collection through The Association for Cultural Equity website). While watching clips of some songs recently I became interested in the politics and poetry of how the auto-captioning feature was translating the lyrics. The colloquial and regional nature of the language spoken in most of the clips is such that the auto-generator produces a text that is barely comprehensible grammatically while still seeming to register a loose scan of the lines being sung and spoken. Even more interesting to me was the fact that the auto-generated lines seem to offer an augmentation and commentary to the actual lyrics that is current (most of the clips posted are 30+ years old) but still seem to address some of the cultural markers that we expect when listening to songs like these.

ISSUE FIVE: My Laser Style | next poem →

ISSUE FIVE: My Laser Style

Geramee Hensley
   November is an anagram
     for fishhook

Taunja Thomson
   Skull, My Former

Rachel J. Bennett
   Level with Animals
   Field Dressing
     My Favorite Animal

   For the Programmer

Sean M. Conrey
   Alan Lomax Translation No. 1:
      Nimrod Workman, 'Mother
      Jones Will' (1983)

   Alan Lomax Translation No. 2:
      "Belton Sutherland's
      Field Holler" (1978)

Heather McNaugher
   Nature & Environmental
     Writing Workshop

Thea Goodrich
   Keynes & Keats as the Keystone
     Cowboy: Infinite Iterations

Vanessa Couto Johnson

Raymond Farr
   Encroachment on a Dry Source

Kristin LaFollette
   The Burial

Anna Kreienberg
   a tornado poem

Alejandro Escudé
   A Proper Pressurized Blast

Cathryn Cofell