Earth, Milky Way: punctum books, 2022. 144 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1-68571-068-2. DOI: 10.53288/0394.1.00. OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $21.00 in print: paperbound/7 X 10 in.

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

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

It feels appropriate to note that I met Alexandra Juhasz at that “most analog” of structures, a birthday party. By the time we ordered our food, Alex had proposed that we collaborate. When Alex says “I believe in processes and people,” she means it. Poets of Course became embedded in the Fake News Poetry Workshops in an exhilarating back and forth that lasted for many years. Alex understood implicitly that “fake news” is a concept that strikes at the heart of disability justice. Many disabled folks that live “in-system” are subject to a narrative that comes almost totally from without. A narrative that relies on technology and not community. A narrative that tallies and quantifies. The workshops undertaken with Alex were a joyful antidote where the damaging consequences of the digital could be challenged, the act of creating became one of refusal. In the book, a member of the Toronto workshops noted “I don’t cite with you, I sit with you.” Such is the process that Alex abides by. And it is radical.”

~ Catherine James, Poets of Course

The poems collected here present community expression and personal story. They stand witness to creativity and empowerment. They name truth by naming untruth, reclaiming words as seductive and ambiguous reflections of the world. My Phone Lies to Me and the Fake News Poetry Workshops exemplify poetry as a communal cultural process.

~ Petra Kuppers, author of Eco Soma: Pain and Joy in Speculative Performance Encounters, community performance artist, and a disability culture activist

The experience of building community-based workshops with Alexandra Juhasz for this project in collaboration with poet, new media artist, and scholar Margaret Rhee was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had as an educator as the project continued to grow and transform around us from a workshop to poems to a video archive to a podcast and now to a book. Engaging with Juhasz’s original #100hardtruths / #fakenews digital literacy primer in conversation with Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric gave Rhee and I new ways to invite people to discuss their relationship to race and representations of race in the media in our initial workshop, which led to the transformative experience of getting to work with Rankine and filmmaker John Lucas to develop participants’ poems into videos. I’ll always cherish the opportunity to see the power of words laid bare in the midst of a fraught political landscape in service of this project.

~ Chet’la Sebree, author of Field Study and Mistress, poet, editor, and educator

There was a time when we looked to the media to be the country’s watchdog. The news industry examined, interrogated, and reported – every story, every fact — accurately. Now in the current trend of fake news, who can we trust? My Phone Lies to Me edited by Alexandra Juhasz pushes us to reconsider the way we receive media and its validity. It asks us to question the realness of reality through enlisting the voice of a next generation. My Phone Lies to Me is the culmination of a series of eye-opening workshops that asked youth poets at Get Lit, as well as people of all ages and skills, to write a more honest, more credible world by looking closely, critically at this one. Watch out, there’s a new watchdog — its name is poetry.

~ Kelly Grace Thomas, author of Boat Burned and Director of Education for Get Lit-Words Ignite

My Phone Lies to Me: Fake News Poetry Workshops As Radical Digital Media Literacy Given the Fact of Fake News

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.”

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