E-poetry and defining the new frontier

As part of this exploration of digital humanities, I had lots of questions in my last post, mainly about what poetry’s place is on the internet. Following that line of inquiry I google searched digital initiatives in poetry and found this page http://iloveepoetry.com/.  It appears that while I was aware that digital poetry existed I guess I wasn’t aware to what extent.

Digital poetry uses digital media to create poetry that rejects traditional poetic form. I guess I shouldn’t really be all that surprised about this because of the way that the avant-garde movement handles poetry.

There is a large part of me that thinks it doesn’t really seem like poetry, and another part of me that is excited for the way that poetry crosses genres. Wikipedia does not have an entry for e-poetry but it does provide this definition for digital poetry:

Digital poetry is a form of electronic literature, displaying a wide range of approaches to poetry, with a prominent and crucial use ofcomputersDigital poetry can be available in form of CD-ROM, DVD, as installations in art galleries, in certain cases also recorded as digital video or films, as digital holograms and on the World Wide Web or Internet.

A significant portion of current publications of poetry are available either only online or via some combination of online and offline publication. There are many types of ‘digital poetry’ such as hypertext, kinetic poetry, computer generated animation, digital visual poetry, interactive poetry, code poetryholographic poetry (holopoetry), experimental video poetry, and poetries that take advantage of theprogrammable nature of the computer to create works that are interactive, or use generative or combinatorial approach to create text (or one of its states), or involve sound poetry, or take advantage of things like listservs, blogs, and other forms of network communication to create communities of collaborative writing and publication (as in poetical wikis).

Digital computers allow the creation of art that spans different media: text, images, sounds, and interactivity via programming. Contemporary poetries have, therefore, taken advantage of this toward the creation of works that synthesize both arts and media. Whether a work is poetry or visual art or music or programming is sometimes not clear, but we expect an intense engagement with language in poetical works.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_poetry

This to me is an indicator of the nature of poetics. Contemporary poetry is by its nature cross genre. There is a requirement that contemporary poetry engages with other genres in order to exist. Another interesting example of this is The Last Vispo Anthology; an anthology of poetry that walks the line between visual art and poetry.

Here is an example of some of the Digital poetry that I looked at in my exploration this morning: TAKE IT by Wilton Azevedo from Scripturesphere I don’t recommend watching it if you have epilepsy.

Maybe poetry then is about the engagement of language with the senses and how we feel out the world through sound and text. I know that when I explain what poetry is to people I stress that poetry has no rules, only conventions — so what are the definitive conventions of digital poetry? That it can be anything so long as it engages with our sense of language?

Again, I think I am left with more questions than I have answers for.

Hello DH world! Hello Poetry!

So here we are on this illustrious day of Digital Humanism! I am excited to get started. Today, I am going to be exploring poetry and DH (as per the title of my blog).  April is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoMo), an event I was not aware of until this year and one that solely exists online. So, it seems particularly poignant to explore digital humanities through the lens of poetry.

NaPoMo (along with NaNoWriMo) is an event that would not really be possible without digital technology and the archival quality of digital record. I can’t call myself a digital native, as I am about ten years out of that age bracket, but I can’t imagine a time without some kind of digital community. I remember using msn messenger and AOL messenger as young as twelve years old, and now I am reliant, as a poet, on the internet for research, and community connection.

What would it be like to hold a month long event like NaPoMo without a digital realm to be in? What do events like this mean for the digital record? What does this mean for issues of place?

I am curious about the openness of the internet as a forum for publishing. Publishing has, is and always will be the creation of a public and in terms of traditional publishers, there has always been a level of pretension.

I would like to iterate that I don’t think this is a bad thing because pretension is an act to protect an art form. If there is something to be valued then it stands to reason that value will mean there is some pretension inherit in it. Pretension says there is a club with standards; elitism, pretensions evil and exclusive cousin, says who’s in the club.

But here we are on the internet, the veritable wild west of publishing, and I am wondering what this means for poetry and pretension. Poetry published on the internet through blogger or wordpress can be anything, there is ultimate freedom to the public one creates, so much so that what is good could end up entirely lost in the dreck. Assuming that there is dreck. Assuming that there is good and not good poetry.

Is online media impoverishing the art because it rejects pretension? Because it means that anyone can publish anything?

I personally think this is a fantastically interesting thing to look at. I think there is a future in researching digital poetry publication and trends within it. The sad thing about pretension is that there are always silenced voices. I guess that means that the internet will bring all these voices onto a level playing field, for all our future curiosity. What will become a digital canon?

I think there is something in this movement akin to the rise of the Gutenberg Press when the streets were full of self published pamphlets fluttering like wings in the wind, little poems and fictions taking flight (or at least that’s how I imagine it). There is something in it that feels like freedom.