Surprise Potatoes in the Soldiers’ Vegetable Soup!

Having blogged for more than a year I have finally reached the status of renowned, serious blogger. I have carved out my niche, and I have been asked for providing feedback on a book in that particular category.

Of course, it is a book of spam poems.

 Surprise Potatoes in the Soldiers’ Vegetable Soup

… compiled by my LinkedIn connection Alan Mundy – “poorly translated Chinese recipes cannibalised to form the most insightful and thought provoking book of its kind ever written (presumably)”

Checking Alan’s LinkedIn URL again I confirm it starts with uk which does not come as a surprise. A book like this can only originate from the country that produced Shakespeare, Monty Python and Douglas Adams.

I am a blog spam expert, so it is an enormous task to review, understand, and do justice to e-mail spam poetry.


A bunch of spam poets – Alan Mundy, Jess Bryan, Rob Cleaver, Richard Sutton, and Dan Roberts (If any of you wants to have your name sanitized for the sake of online reputation – let me know and I replace it with *****; if I have forgotten somebody let me know, too) – have assembled poems from spam, adhering to the following rules:

  • You can only use lines from the text in your poem – you must not add anything
  • You must not edit the original lines in any way
  • You can use partial lines but must not mix lines together to create new lines

(I promise I will follow these next time, too!)

The book contains 101 spam poems plus the original spam e-mails as bonus material, sort of ‘making of’. The original e-mail spams are rather long-winded which might give the poet a greater selection of phrases to pick from, but in the other hand it might be tiresome to read through all this without turning your brain into the juice of three bark.


The poems are as food-centric as the original spam was. This was a novel experience for the philosophically inclined geek in me who prefers postmodern spam poems lingering on the new age-y.

Having read the book for countless times in the past week I have changed my mind – though recommended to all the hobby chefs among you it the poems will also appeal to the refined ethereal poetry lovers. The poems contain gems of timeless wisdom such as Very often you use also be young and aphorisms on ethics such as Be good if you die.

It is in particular the embroidery with all stuff food-related that provides a consistent down-to-earth theme to put all these grand insights gained from spam into perspective. So the poems are both artistic as comprehensible to readers that did not have that much exposure to advanced experimental poetry. After all didn’t great physicist Richard Feynman say A poet once said, ‘The whole universe is in a glass of wine.’? Cross-checked again: Wine is featured in four poems!

Also the Stephen King fans will enjoy their share of creepy violence – Cut in your liver!  – and science geeks will love terms as Transmission intensity.

There is also a poem titled A sexual poem… (The header lines have been created by the poets BTW). Thanks for your understanding that I cannot quote from this on your geeky family blog though it might boost my Google ranking.

So I give this alleged first(*) book on spam poetry 5 of 5 stars.
(*) As usual, I did not do research on this, and I do not want to be involved in disputes about originality. It’s probably the spammers who own the stuff and who have licenced it under Creative Commons.

PS: I have not forgotten about  my scheduled post on networking, professional online profiles and the like. But now you know already how professionals really use LinkedIn!
PPS: Calling people ‘connections’ is LinkedIn’s terminology, not mine.
PPPS: My blog spam queue is exploding!

17 Comments Add yours

  1. M. R. says:

    Oh, lovely stuff! :-) You are to be congratulated for that first year (all those months ago), and having kept going in the face of far more ordinary and boring bloggers who can’t work out where you’re coming from.
    Please, let’s have another year, yes?


    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, M.R. – for picking that post in particular :-)
      Yes, I have a lot of fun with spam poetry and search term poetry – and I have found some other enthusiasts, too, in the blogosphere. Unfortunately Google has started encrypting search results recently.
      As for the first year: Actually I did ‘pseudo-blog’ on non-interactive websites for a long time before. So I am accustomed to internet writing lacking any sort of feedback – this probably helps in just keeping going. But I have found a small community of readers and followers who read both my spam poetry and my physics posts, so I cannot complain :-)

  2. tresjuicy says:

    Thanks you for your brilliant review Elke!

    Michelle, I must confess to leaving the spam comment for you as and hoped that you would appreciate the irony.

    I had not realised that spam poetry was even a legitimate form and produced the book simply for fun.

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks – my pleasure, I really enjoyed reading and ‘analyzing’ the book!
      As for the question if spam poetry is legitimate: Actually, in my most paranoid moments (that is: often) I fear for my WordPress account – probably it might be suspended because of the violation of the Terms of Service, no kidding. You must not post ‘machine generated spam content’.
      However, I hope and believe the team still has this strange kind of humor shimmering through some of their support pages (‘Happiness Engineers’ i.e.).

  3. Educate me Elke … please … why do spammer target my wordpress account? No, really. I’d like to know. Teach me something about the psyche of the average spammer. Do they really think their poorly-written messages are going to entice me to ‘click here?’ D

    1. elkement says:

      Not at all an expert, but as I understood the spammer’s logic it works like this: Spam comments to a million blogs and expect a click conversion rate of a tiny fraction of one percent. This would still lead to several 100 clicks.
      Actually, I do not know about blog spam, but re e-mail spam I was surprised to hear once (from a security expert) that there are really people who react to these “We need a financial account….” e-mail spam – which basically tricks you into money laundering by requiring you to wire transfer money to a dubious account. And people do this and believe this is a real job, no kidding.

      1. Amazing … truly amazing!

  4. M. Hatzel says:

    This isn’t related to your post; I found a blog that you might like to check out.

    1. elkement says:

      This is a true gem, Michelle!! Thanks so much for the pointer! It resonates with the physicist and spam poet in me!

  5. M. Hatzel says:

    Here was the entire spam:
    Very nice! Below is an excerpt from my book “Surprise Potatoes In The Soldiers Vegetable Soup”
    There was nothing
    A quarter of the kindness of fish
    If you would be tender
    Take them a five-franc piece.
    Use either rump-steak or a lemon

    in that same week I also received a curse (kind of like a spell) on terrorists.

    Congratulations; now you can add spam poet to your CV, officially. :)

    1. elkement says:

      But the community of spam poets still seems to be quite small and tight-knit – since you have already been familiar with the book ;-)
      How did you find the book? Did you actively search for spam poetry :-D ?

      1. M. Hatzel says:

        The book was advertised in a spam comment that I received, on my last post on spam poetry. That post was also spam re-blogged on a site that is entirely composed of reblogged posts. I didn’t pay much attention to the book spam, I just copied it into a file to use for spam poetry! If it weren’t for this conversation now, I would have continued with not realizing that I received a message about a spam poetry book. Maybe it shouldn’t have been spam? Oops.
        I’ve gotten piles of food-related spam on my old Blogger account, including the line on potatoes in solider soup, so I thought I was getting some of the same spam on WordPress. Honest misunderstanding, but now I feel bad.

        1. elkement says:

          This is so weird and so sublime at the same time – let me repeat this (This is also to attract the relevant spam comments to my post now): The SPAM POETRY BOOK was ADVERTISED in a SPAM COMMENT on your post on SPAM POETRY, and in addition SPAM REBLOGGED. You couldn’t have made this up!!
          But this gives us a glimpse on the intelligence of selective spam commenters and what to expect for the future.

          1. M. Hatzel says:

            Yes, and that post was hit with other spam before it received any other attention for an audience, which so far remains my highest-ranking post.

  6. It is a cool book title, but who the F*** gets soldier’s vegetable soup in their Spam?

    1. elkement says:

      I checked their spam raw material: The book title is there in the middle of the spam text, in capital letters. Not really related to previous and next sentence. Maybe it is sort of subtitle and the spammers couldn’t get line breaks to work.
      Probably it is spam targeted to the British audience – I am jealous, too!

    2. M. Hatzel says:

      I got this one last week. :) I was expecting to have the scoop on it; now I’m disappointed.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.