Perhaps you remember this kerfuffle from 2011: When Google announced the release of its failed social networking tool, Google Plus, it disallowed the use of anything but a user’s real name. All the pseudonymous folk—from Chris Brown impersonators to vulnerable political dissidents to WR’s fake Salman Rushdie profile—were pretty pissed off. And rightly so, we think. The Internet is supposed to be a landscape of boundless possibility. Why the hell can’t you go by... Egg O’Schmilson, say?
We’d like to think that the Internet could accommodate the likes of Fernando Pessoa, the Portuguese poet of the early 20th century who wrote under the guise of over 70 heteronyms, each with distinct writing styles, biographies, and politics. Two of them, Alberto Caeiro and Álvaro de Campos, are considered among the most influential Portuguese writers.
Yet when it comes to the contemporary poet, the single-name paradigm dominates. A writer who manifests multiple heteronymic identities could hardly be expected to thrive in the system of magazine publication, book contests, MFAs, and residencies. Name = voice = brand. Can we fuck with this equation, please?
We invite you to invent your own heteronym and send us up to five of their poems, along with a small biographical sketch. The worthiest of them will be published in Wag’s 15.
Here are those worthiest few. We hope you enjoy.
Will Guzzardi and Travis Smith
Poetry Editors, Wag's Revue