About the Project
Pet Murmur is an experimental, web-based memoir that marries traditional forms with the possibilities of the social network.
The first phase of the project—Boy Friends: Lessons for Girls—is a serialized alphabet book about boys that narrates my personal encounters from Adam through Zachary. The poems were published anonymously through a series of weekly email blasts from a “secret admirer,” but the project was built on the permissions process and the revelation of real secrets. All texts and images are vetted by and published with the consent of their subjects—men and boys from my past—who verified the accuracy of the content and were invited to participate in the act of collaborative storytelling.
The second phase of the project—Confessional Poetry: The Act of Contrition—is an ongoing, serialized collection of prose poems modeled after the Roman Catholic Sacrament of Penance. In each installment, I narrate a personal sin, failure or wrongdoing to correspond to one of the Ten Commandments. Illustrated with snapshots of my childhood and adolescence, Pet Murmur is a digital scrapbook that resides at the interstices of poetry and memoir and investigates the proximity between truth and fiction.
Through the revelation of secrets, the project (re)enacts the collapse of personal privacy in the digital age, tracking and documenting the permissions process through social media. Pet Murmur is a pedagogical and epistemological study that engages with the peculiarly public intimacy enabled by the internet to explore themes of innocence, experience, and identity. The project investigates how we learn to ourselves by appropriating childhood tropes—like the ABC’s and the 123’s—to explore the terror of the female body and complexity of knowledge itself.