Stephanie Barber Creates Poetry from YouTube Comments with ‘Night Moves’
If it is the job of the poet, as Emerson says it is, to “[re-attach] things to nature and the Whole” — to assimilate the ugly and novel into the “great Order” of poetry — then Baltimore polymath Stephanie Barber‘s forthcoming Night Moves (Publishing Genius), a compilation of hundreds of YouTube comments left on a video for the classic pop song, is a very necessary book of poetry.
If you’ve ever scrolled through a string of YouTube comments before, particularly those left on music videos, then much of the content of Night Moves will hardly surprise you. The weighty proclamations (“This song is the most Timeless and emotion provoking song ever. Bob Seger- Night Moves will be heard forever until the end of days.”), the preoccupation with age (“hell, I’m 81 and I love this song.”) , the libelous statements about the users who gave the video a thumbs-down (“79 people never had night moves….”) — these various elements have by now become so predictable that we can be sure future historians will place 2013 in the High YouTube Comments Era.
In Night Moves, nothing is edited, re-lineated, or — it would appear — excised. (Included is at least one comment the original user accidentally entered twice.) Whatever it is that compels us about Night Moves derives from the author’s (and her publisher’s) simple Emersonian labor of printing these ugly, ephemeral, ubiquitous communications between the covers of a book, to be shelved with our poetry, between Amiri Baraka and Lauren Crain Bender — and occasionally to be opened and read:
“this song brings about a certain emotion that cant be put into words. somehow – through his style, melodies, and lyrics – you can feel his passion regardless of if you were alive during that time.”
This is our literature.
Night Moves will be released by Publishing Genius Press on February 12. Hampden’s Atomic Books will host a release party on February 15. Included will be a reading, Q&A with the author and an “awesome cover” of the song.