The Poetry Drone
The Po-Dro re-appropriates the unmanned aerial vehicle to deploy poems addressing the US military's use of drones.
The Poetry Drone re-appropriates Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology to drop poem-bombs, featuring specially commissioned poems by leading US and world poets, in an effort bring the US military's covert drone operations into the spotlight to promote discussion, humanize its victims, and explore the political responsibility of poets, artists, and citizens.
Now that the breeze has learnt to write
She can choose to rewrite autumn as spring
--"The Breeze Rewrites," by Noshi Gillani, Pakistan, tr. Lavinia Greenlaw, for the Poetry Translation Centre
The US military has tested unmanned aerial vehicles since 1917, but began using drones to target and kill suspected terrorists under George W. Bush in 2004. Drone strikes have increased substantially under President Obama: the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that there have been 369 drone strikes in Pakistan alone, killing roughly 2,500 to 3,500 people, including at least 168 children and 400 - 900 civilians. Under the Obama administration at least 4 American citizens have been killed by drone strikes.
This Kickstarter campaign will directly fund two things: the purchase of the drone itself and the production (editorial and physical) of The Poetry Drone Anthology, featuring original poems commissioned to be dropped from the drone.
The Poetry Drone will appear at literary and arts events around the world, with a complete schedule to be released shortly after successful project funding. In addition to its live poetry actions, the Poetry Drone project will publish an anthology of the poems that will be dropped from the drone, available in December 2013. A short documentary feature will be produced to showcase the project's development from idea to physical object to interactive poetry experience.
Inspirations: Chilean poet Raúl Zurita, who wrote his poems in the sky over Queens and in the deserts of Atacama, the Casagrande Collective, which has dropped poems by helicopter over cities that have suffered airstrikes, American poet Michael Robbins' "To the Drone Vaguely Realizing Eastward" Pakistani poets like Noshi Gillani and Kishwar Naheed, committed journalists and organizations like the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, and socially engaged poets from around the world.
What the media has to say:
"There are several poetry projects on offer on Kickstarter, the crowd-sourcing site popular with artists and other dreamers. Most involve organizing readings and publishing first books and anthologies. The poet David Shook is much more ambitious than that." —Los Angeles Times
"Roughly 50 years after a young protester placed a single flower into the barrel of a National Guardsman’s rifle a California poet is turning again to flower power — and drones — to protest war." —New York Daily News
"[We] can all probably agree that the idea alone is louder than a Hellfire missile." —Vice
"Drones have an image problem. The Obama administration has tarnished their reputation with the deadly drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, which have racked up untold civilian deaths.... Now one L.A.-based poet wants to use drones for a literary cause. David Shook, also a translator and filmaker, wants to create the world's first Poetry Drone." —GOOD
"zany, brilliant, ... [apparently legal]" —Eyewear
"It’s a contemporary act of prophecy, though it professes no religious affiliation." —antler
The Poetry Drone's creator David Shook is a poet, translator, and filmmaker in Los Angeles. His debut collection Our Obsidian Tongues appeared this year from Eyewear Publishing; celebrated Mexican poet David Huerta called it "a medical chart, a form of diagnosis." He premiered his covertly filmed short documentary Kilómetro Cero, about tortured Equatorial Guinean poet Marcelo Ensema Nsang, at the 2012 Poetry Parnassus in London, which he served as English PEN Translator in Residence. His many translations include Víctor Terán's poetry from the Isthmus Zapotec, Roberto Bolaño's 1976 manifesto, Mario Bellatin's Shiki Nagaoka, and Tedi López Mills' Death on Rua Augusta. His poems, translations, essays, and films can be found at http://davidshook.net. He edits molossus and Phoneme Media.
Risks and challenges
The Drone Itself
Depending on further study with a team of engineers, electricians, and builders, the Poetry Drone will most likely be a modified version of the SteadiDrone H6X RTF or the Arduplane-AP-X. The lower base price or the Arduplane would likely allow several Poetry Drones to be produced, although its fixed-wing construction is more problematic for effective poem dropping.
Are Drones Even Legal?
Because of their relative novelty, there are surprisingly few laws restricting the use of drones outside of restricted airspace. Since the Poetry Drone is not a weapon, it will be subject to the laws regarding hobby drones, making it perfectly legal to use in most planned locations.
Safety & Environmental Responsibility
The poems themselves will be printed on semi-rigid bookmarks shaped to slow their decent enough to be safely caught. The Poetry Drone will employ the latest research in poem dropping--seriously!--to be as safe as possible.
All poems will be printed on plantable paper, biodegradable paper impregnated with wildflower seeds, so that if left behind (or planted) they will grow assorted wildflowers. The poems will be printed with earth-friendly soy ink.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)