When faced with moments of global madness and seismic change, Alex Juhasz again thinks dazzingly across mediums, bringing people together to pull creative and collective energy out of the crags. This project, with its poetry and podcasts and cross-sector gatherings, insists on the power of critical engagement and joy through, and in response to, the darkest of times.
– P. Gabrielle Foreman, Founding Faculty Director, the Colored Conventions Project, Penn State University
This book of poems about fake news written by diverse project participants is foremost an invitation and invocation for readers to participate, with others, in an experiment in knowing and working differently with the internet: Fake News Poetry Workshops. Between 2018 and 2020, Alexandra Juhasz directed more than twenty of these workshops around the world, and these are ongoing beyond the confines of this book. Each differs in form and structure, but participants are always asked to attend to research, their own knowledge about the internet and social media, and what they can learn from their workshop and previous ones.
My Phone Lies to Me shares the poems created in the workshops. As moving, eloquent, and useful as they may be — and you are invited to indulge in and learn from them — enjoying and learning from the poems is only a small part of this book’s project. Four short essays (two by Juhasz, with a foreword and afterword by critical internet scholars Tara McPherson and Margaret Rhee, respectively) introduce and situate the project’s processes of radical digital media. You can learn what Fake News Poetry Workshops make, do, and believe in, as well as how to collaborate with others to create your own.
Fake News Poetry Workshops are one way to counter dominant and dominating internet modes and values, to fight the corrupt ways of being and knowing that use digital media to create, fuel, and weaponize fake news. The project verifies good news in the face of fake news: that we can gather together in our many local places and use analog structures (about digital things and ways) to generate, hold, and share “art answers to phony questions.”
Alexandra (Alex) Juhasz’s continued pedagogical practice of creating communities for the making of collaborative work is once again enacted in this innovative collection of poetry. My Phone Lies to Me charts a roadmap for the kind of collective work we all can be doing within our creative and activist communities.
– Claudia Rankine, poet and author of Citizen: An American Lyric & John Lucas, documentary filmmaker
Alexandra Juhasz is a Distinguished Professor of Film at Brooklyn College, CUNY. She makes and studies committed media practices that contribute to political change and individual and community growth. She is the prolific author and editor of scholarly books on AIDS, including AIDS TV (Duke, 1995) and, with Ted Kerr, We Are Having This Conversation Now: The Times of AIDS Cultural Production (Duke, 2022). On fake (and real) documentaries, she has published, with Alisa Lebow, The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Documentary (Blackwell, 2015) and with Nishant Shah and Ganaele Langlois, Really Fake (Minnesota, 2021). On the subject of YouTube, she authored Learning from YouTube (MIT, 2013), and on black lesbian filmmaking, with Yvonne Welbon, she is the editor of Sisters in the Life: 25 Years of African-American Lesbian Filmmaking (Duke, 2018). She is the producer of educational videotapes on feminist issues from AIDS to teen pregnancy as well as the feature fake documentaries The Watermelon Woman (dir. Cheryl Dunye, 1996) and The Owls (dir. Cheryl Dunye, 2010). She also writes about her cultural and political commitments in more public platforms, including Hyperallergic, BOMB, MS, X-tra, and Lamda Literary Review.
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