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Adam Zachary

28 Jun Adam Zachary

The 2016 Metatron
Prize Shortlist

 

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THE END, BY ANNA (EXCERPT)

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[…] Anna ran up to the house, lit what matches remained, and threw the burning box in through a broken window. She took out her phone and filmed as fire spread through the house. It was atop a hill and the sun was setting opposite its door from where we stood, lending the day’s last light to her scene. The clouds were tall and dark as the smoke. We stood for five minutes, hands cold, not speaking so as not to disturb the film. We might have stayed longer, but heard sirens on the wind. To end the film, Anna handed me her phone, walked into the frame, and said, “This poem took the form of a house burning down.” A week later, she brought it into seminar. She had had high hopes and became distraught when nobody understood. Some classmates were openly derisive and mocked it with such base comments as “That’s not a poem, it’s a video!” and “That’s illegal!” It was easy for Anna to ignore those. But a more intelligent classmate provided a more cutting criticism: that the work was simply too unlike a poem for it to pose a provocative challenge to poetry as a medium. And Anna could not defend against that. She wondered whether she really was a poet after all. She came over to my place after class and looked up ‘poetry’ on Wikipedia. The article began:
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anna wiki 1
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Anna realized her mistake and cursed herself for not having looked to Wikipedia earlier. Of course, the meanings she wanted to evoke could not exist within language whatsoever. Out of frustration, she deleted all text in the article and replaced it with her own on-the-spot definition, plus links to two examples of her own work. The new article read as follows:
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anna wiki 2
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(The first example! led to a page on her website with a recording of herself reading a poem, the only narrative-based work she had ever been proud of. It was about a newly hatched dragon eating regurgitated livestock from his mother’s mouth, learning to scatter his feet around the nest in an early understanding of movement, flapping growing wings in aspiration as he gazed after his mother flown away to hunt, and then being killed and eaten by a dragon of a different breed who was not especially in need of food, but who had heard the baby’s cries from his own mountaintop and decided that he could both silence the racket and preemptively satiate his hunger in one go. While being eaten, the baby dragon did not struggle beyond what was reflexive, assuming the experience to be just another, if unpleasant, routine step in his development. It was titled ‘poem on youth’. The second example! led to a short film of Anna getting out of bed, dressing in fine clothes, standing in front of the mirror and not moving for a long time, standing at her window for a shorter amount of time, removing her clothes, closing the blinds, and going back to bed. It was titled ‘Again’.) Within minutes, the Wikipedia moderators had deleted her definition, restored the article, and banned my IP address from editing the website any further. Anna laughed, said that she hoped to have given something new, brought perplexed joy to all who had attempted to access the article in that time. (I said, Anna, you assume too much of the world.) […]
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Adam Zachary is an artist, editor, and writer. They live in Toronto and work as an editor for The Puritan. Adam’s first chapbook of short prose, Bodies Vs., was published by words(on)pages.

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