“Imagine If Oscar Wilde Had Had An iPhone!”

Reviewing Alex Dimitrov’s debut collection of poetry, Begging for It, Jeremy Glazier describes the use of Grindr as a literary device:

The three Grindr “poems” offer a peek into Dimitrov’s self-mythologization. Each is a screenshot of a smartphone conversation between the poet and an anonymous guy from Grindr, and in each case, Dimitrov’s contributions are limited to laconic replies to his interlocutor’s promptings. In the first, called “Poems actually,” the two words of the title are the poet’s only part, typed in response to the query, “What sort of stuff do you write?” The rest is the rather effusive effort on the part of the other guy to pin down Dimitrov’s poetic credentials: “Epic poems, limericks or like what? / And who is your poetry inspiration / Was that grammatically correct? I don’t think it was but you get what I am saying.” The humor resides partially in the contrast between Dimitrov’s terseness and the garrulousness of the other guy — and in the unexpected “literary” chat on an app that’s more usually reserved for swapping cock pics.

In another Grindr piece, “Proust’s Grave,” one of Dimitrov’s anonymous online admirers has figured out who he is and messages him out of the blue, at 1:22 in the morning: “One shouldn’t lie on Proust’s grave,” he texts — a reference to a photograph online of Dimitrov wallowing on said grave. Dimitrov’s response, “Who the fuck is this,” is immediate — and that’s the end of the conversation. Part found poem, part unwitting collaboration, the poem’s appeal for the reader is essentially voyeuristic: our sense that we are eavesdropping on something private and potentially intimate. For Dimitrov, the act of cruising online is charged poetically as well as libidinally, and like a sexed-up version of Stevens’s Hoon, he invites us into his private “palaz” for “tea.”