“Poemita” by Eduardo Navas

Open 'Poemita' by Eduardo Navas
Open ‘Poemita‘ by Eduardo Navas

Poemita by Eduardo Navas is an online collection of micropoems published on the Twitter platform which Navas began in January 2010, and which he has continued publishing up to the present day. Navas locates Poemita within his broader portfolio of projects that he has developed with ‘random brief statements’ (http://navasse.net/poemita/), and each tweet constitutes an individual poem, based around keywords that Navas has brainstormed.

Poemita can be classified within the growing genre of Twitter poetry, of which there are now hundreds of examples worldwide, including Canadian author Jason Camlot’s tickertext1 and tickertext2 (2010), the collaborative poetry project using Twitter by Australian author Gavin Heaton, TwitterPoetry (2007-), and the Twitter Poetry competition organized by Marsha Berry and Omega Goodwin in 2009. In these and other examples, the formal aspects of Twitter – in particular, the restriction to a maximum of 140 characters – is a central feature. Sharing certain features with the Japanese tradition of the haiku –and indeed, with the neologism twaiku sometimes being used to describe this type of poetry – Twitter poetry sees the formal restriction to 140 characters as a productive, creative one, leading to the possibility of capturing moments or images with a particular intensity.

Although each of the tweets within Navas’s Poemita are individual micropoems in their own right, when reading them in conjunction a shared set of thematics and concerns emerge. The micropoems all deal with contemporary society and forms of expression. Some poems comment on new media technologies themselves; others lend themselves to considerations of the poetic medium; still others make implicitly political statements related to digital content.

Frequent within these micropoems is commentary on new media technologies themselves. Examples here can be seen in the tweet of 15 August 2012 that reads:

Here, the brevity of the utterances means that greater focus is given to the adjective and noun with which the poem begins; the fact that the noun and its qualifying adjective are pre-posed, in non-standard syntax, means that our attention is drawn to ‘instant gratification’ as the central image of this micropoem. This micropoem is thus a critique of the instant celebrity culture promoted by social media, and the increasing narcissism that constant updates, via platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, encourages. Yet at the same time it is, of course, a metatextual poem, since the writing of ‘aphoristic fragments’ is exactly what Poemita undertakes: the micropoem thus engages in a critique of its own medium, as we see in many of Navas’s other works.

We are, thus, not allowed to sit back and enjoy as we read Poemita; instead, we are encouraged to question our own stance as users of social media as we engage in our reading.

 

Radikal Karaoke by Belén Gache

 

Open 'Radikal Karaoke' by Belén Gache
Open ‘Radikal Karaoke‘ by Belén Gache

Radikal Karaoke, by Argentine author Belén Gache, is an online piece combining text, still and moving images, sound files and user-activated effects. In this work, the reader-user is invited to read out loud poems composed of fragments of political discourses, at the same time as activating a series of videos and special effects. Gache describes Radikal Karaoke as a ‘conjunto de poesías que se apropian de la retórica de la propaganda política’ [‘collection of poems that appropriate the rhetoric of political propaganda’], but the notion here of ‘poetry collection’ is not in the conventional sense of a printed text that brings together several individual poems under into one volume. Instead, the ‘conjunto’ refers to the very creative process of the poetry itself, since the poems are composed of the re-mixing and re-combinations of found texts.

Belén Gache is one of the leading authors of experimental fiction in the Hispanic world, and has published to date a variety of literary works, both print and electronic, that engage in experimental practice. Her oeuvre is frequently characterized by an intertextual play with pre-existing literary genres, authors and texts, set in a creative dynamic with digital technologies, and Radikal Karaoke is no exception.

Radikal Karaoke opens on an interactive interface that displays, in the main part of the screen, a video in black and white which shows rows of spectators, applauding, set on a continuous loop and speeded up. Beneath the video lies the control panel of the work, consisting of firstly a row of buttons each identified with letters, and, beneath these, the lines of text we are invited to read.

In this work the user has to take on an active role in the execution of the poetry, both through our reading of the text out loud (as in karaoke), and through the activation of the visual poetry of this work. The visual poetry is created by the reader-user as s/he presses the various keys of the control panel, some of which produce modifications in the video in the main screen, changing its colour or speed, and others change the video file completely, and replace it with a new moving image.

Gache’s insistence on the ‘retórica de la propaganda política’ clearly indicates that her poetic endeavour has an ideological stance, and she encourages us to deconstruct the empty discourses of political rhetoric by means of parody, and through the shock contrast of sound, image and text. The videos function as a sort of meta-poetic commentary that makes us question the text that we read out, and interrogate political rhetoric, the powers of large corporations, and the indiscriminate consumption of social media.

But it is, perhaps, the very last button of Gache’s control panel –button V7 – which turns out to be the most shocking and disturbing for the reader-user. For, after having passed through a series of videos showing slaves, aliens, and cybernetic entities in thrall to the neoliberal system, the final button shows us… well, try it out for yourself, and see how you are implicated in this video.

 

Algorritmos: Infopoemas by E. M. de Melo e Castro

"Algorritmos: Infopoemas" (cover) by E. M. de Melo e Castro
Open “Algorritmos: Infopoemas” by E. M. de Melo e Castro

Since 1986, besides videopoetry, E. M. de Melo e Castro worked on a series of experiments with other computer media (suportes informáticos), coined by the author as “infopoesia” [infopoetry], in which he used image editor software. Once more – and this is a fact the analysis by Jorge Luiz Antonio (2001) does not highlight – the prevailing choice of image editors at the expense of word processors reveals the visual affiliation of Castrian poetics. The infopoems’ visual animations acknowledge pixel as the primary unit of meaning, in the perspective of an infopoetic language. Some of the resulting images were published in Finitos Mais Finitos: Ficção/Ficções [Finite Plus Finite: Fiction/Fictions] (1996) and Algorritmos: Infopoemas [Algorythms: Infopoems] (1998), whose initial essay develops “a pixel poetics” and explains the amalgams created in the title. The quest for transgression, which is underlined by the book’s title (1998), is followed by the quest for formal synthesis:

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Computer Poetry by Silvestre Pestana

Open "Computer Poetry" by Silvestre Pestana
Open “Computer Poetry” by Silvestre Pestana

In the 1980s, the world saw the introduction of personal computers (PCs). While the first creative stage of electronic literature took advantage of mainframe computers, only accessible in institutional environments, the context in which Silvestre Pestana created his first computer poems was totally different – a new wave Pedro Barbosa ironically calls “poesia doméstica” [domestic poetry] (1996: 147). With personal computers, Silvestre Pestana programmed in BASIC, first for a Sinclair ZX-81, and then, already with chromatic lighting, for a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, three poems respectively dedicated to Henri Chopin, E. M. de Melo e Castro and Julian Beck, which resulted in the Computer Poetry (1981-83) series. Pestana, a visual artist, writer and performer – who had returned from the exile in Sweden after Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974 – brought diverse influences put forward with photography, video, performance, and computer media. From his creative production, it should be emphasized the iconic conceptual piece Povo Novo [New People] (1975), which was remediated by the author himself in the referred series of kinetic visual poems, “video-computer-poems” (Pestana 1985: 205) or “infopoems” (Melo e Castro 1988: 57). By operating almost like TV scripts, the series oscillates between recognizable shapes – such as the oval and the larger animated Lettrist shapes, formed by the small-sized words “ovo” (egg), “povo” (people), “novo” (new), “dor” (pain) and “cor” (color) – and the reading interpretation of the words themselves: “ovo,” the unity, but also the potential; “povo,” the collective, the indistinct, the mass; “novo” and “cor/dor.” This play of relations translates the new consciousness, although painful, of a “new people” in a new historic, social and artistic period, one of freedom and action. In an interview, Pestana (2011) claimed having researched more than thirty languages, only to find in Portuguese the possibility of traversing the singular and the plural, the individual and the collective, the past, present and future, by just dislocating a letter: ovo/(p)ovo/(n)ovo.

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A Literatura Cibernética 1 by Pedro Barbosa

"A Literatura Cibernética 1" (cover) by Pedro Barbosa
Open “A Literatura Cibernética 1” by Pedro Barbosa

Pedro Barbosa’s pioneering work introduced computer-generated literature (CGL) in Portugal in 1975. Having worked with Abraham A. Moles at the University of Strasbourg, Barbosa published three theoretical-practical volumes of his programming experiences with the FORTRAN and BASIC languages. These volumes deal with combinatorics and randomness, developing algorithms able to ally computing and literary production, bearing in mind a perspective of computational text theory.

According to the author, A Literatura Cibernética 1: Autopoemas Gerados por Computador [Cybernetic Literature 1: Computer-Generated Autopoems] is an “esboço de uma teoria, toda uma prática, dois métodos e dois programas, que irão facultar a qualquer leitor, interessado e imaginoso, a confecção de poemas automáticos à razão de 5200 versos por hora: no espaço intraorgânico de qualquer computador!” [outline of a theory, an entire practice, two methods and two programs, which will provide any interested and imaginative reader with the possibility of making automatic poems at the rate of 5200 verses per hour: in the intraorganic space of any computer!] (1977: 8) These “auto-texts,” or “computer-generated autopoems,” hitherto open up a new field of literary theory in the Portuguese context – the direct junction of literature and computation, of writer and programmer. Barbosa’s autopoems were programmed in FORTRAN, ALGOL and NEAT during 1975-76 (Permuta program, Iserve subprogram, and Texal program, Aletor subprogram), using an Elliot/NCR 4130 (a machine introduced in the 1960s in the UK), in collaboration with Azevedo Machado, engineer at the Laboratório de Cálculo Automático [Laboratory of Automatic Calculus] (LACA), at the Faculty of Sciences from the University of Porto.

In A Literatura Cibernética 1, Barbosa compiled a selection of textual outcomes generated with his programs: the permutational poems and the random poems. On the one hand, the permutational poems include “Poema de Computador” [Computer Poem], “25 de Novembro” [November 25], “Verão” [Summer], “Silêncios” [Silences], “Cansaço das Palavras” [The Weariness of Words] and the subtitled poems “trovas electrónicas” [electronic ballads], “Porto” and “Aveiro” (8! = 40,320 permutations, 576 verses, running time: 6’ 54’’), exchanging the morphemes “na” (in), “da” (of), “sem” (without), “uma” (a/the) and the lexemes “água” (water), “ria” (estuary/river), “tristeza” (sadness) and “alegria” (happiness). Aveiro, a city famous for its water channels, is portrayed with the opposites “sadness/happiness” and “water/river,” to the extent that the noun “ria,” when a verb, means “laughed,” giving rise to its opposite, “mágoa” (sorrow), through the rhymed interplay with “água” (water). On the other hand, the random poems appropriate, remix and rewrite poems by other poets. Here, one finds the “Transformação” [Transformation] series, with “Camões e As Voltas que o Computador (lhe) Dá” [Camões and the Turns the Computer Gives (It)], which rewrites a Renaissance text (“classic”) with several random transformations of Luís de Camões’s Os Lusíadas [The Lusiads] (1572), and “É Preciso Dizer…” [One Needs to Say…], an appropriation and re-creation of Mário Cesariny’s surrealist poem (“contemporary”) “Exercício Espiritual” [Spiritual Exercise] (1956), in which Barbosa extends the ironic and surrealist practice of the initial lexicon of nouns.

What surfaces from the resulting versions of the poems, in addition to the achieved syntactic accuracy and the meticulous encoding work, is a luminous mark of criticism, irony and parody, both to the current state of the official literary canon, and, above all, to the climate of oppression and fear (“medo”) inflicted by the long dictatorship, which was still being felt. Conversely, questioning the perpetuation of a political, social and cultural lie (“mentira”) was the likely path to be renewed by the recent establishment of the Portuguese democracy – history (“história”) as continuity and revolution (“revolução”) in the confrontation between human and machine.

Read more about this work at:

PO-EX.net: http://po-ex.net/taxonomia/transtextualidades/metatextualidades-autografas/pedro-barbosa-literatura-cibernetica-1

ELMCIP: http://elmcip.net/node/7998

@DependsUponBot, @JustToSayBot, and @BlackBoughBot by Mark Sample

modernistbots
Open @BlackBoughBot, @DependsUponBot, & @JustToSayBot by Mark Sample

This trio of bots by Mark Sample present riffs on three of the most famous poems of the early Twentieth Century: William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just to Say,” and Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro.” The bots generate new versions of the poems by randomly altering most of the open word classes while keeping the basic syntax, meter and lineation intact, tweeting a new mutation once every two hours (though at the time of writing @DependsUponBot has been inactive since December 2014, for reasons unknown —editor’s note: it has now resumed operations). To my mind, the pleasure of these bots’ tweets lies in the discrepancy between the familiarity of the syntactical structure and the limit-case absurdity of the randomly generated content. For example, the sublime juxtaposition Pound presents the reader –

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“Bust Down the Doors!” by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries

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Open “Bust Down the Doors! by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Versions: English, German, French

“Bust Down the Doors!”, a videopoem by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, opens with a countdown, preparing the reader to the challenge he or she is about to encounter. Quick flashing words that compose the poem begin to blink in and out of the screen, daring the reader to catch each word properly and keep up to rhythm. The contrast of the black letters against a white background creates an almost hypnotizing pattern to this race. This format is repeated in all three different language versions, which are English, German, and French.

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“Blue Hyacinth” by Pauline Masurel and Jim Andrews

Screen capture of Blue Hyacinth:  M M M M  Blue Hyacinth Pauline Masurel Jim Andrews  V I S P O Stir Frys Tabitha flexes against the collar . I try to sound as though I know what I'm talking about. in the alleyway. I just like the look of the grey mare; the bookie can tell, it was probably obvious from the moment I walked in. the hyacinth itself or secreted  When it happens the noise insists before,  ...it goes on for months  another in the corner is smoking. She's watching the race . Rather, it's a subtle matter of class, . when she can't gain entry, Across the road clubbers spill out on to the pavements - he comes. he goes. she waits  for weeks.  after all.  she picks her way back across the landing  - Do you want this,  I could report it  slowly, sadly who would care? and begins to stroke it through the sticky tangle of her hair.
Open “Blue Hyacinth” by Pauline Masurel and Jim Andrews

Slightly modifying the “cut-up” technique of Dadaist and Modernist writers in her digital work, “Blue Hyacinth,” Pauline Masurel encourages her readers not to destroy the original four poems, but rather jumble them together, stir them up, and weave them in a way that shares in the creative process of generating an individualized text. By presenting “Blue Hyacinth” as a stir-fry work (using Jim Andrews’ “Stir Fry Texts” framework) that allows readers to reflect on the original poems, Masurel is changing the author-reader relationship. Masurel ensures that readers become extensions of herself by encouraging readers to manipulate her writings and fashion a text that becomes less a traditional example of poetry and more a collaborative piece shared between individual reader and writer. With “Blue Hyacinth,” Masurel crafts a space where traditional print culture roles fade and are replaced by their mutable digital counterparts. Never once just a reader or an author, those that encounter “Blue Hyacinth” are able to exercise a semblance of autonomy that is novel to texts within the digital medium.

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“Zig and Zag” by Sérgio Caparelli and Ana Cláudia Gruszynski.

zigzag1
Open “Zig and Zag” by Sérgio Caparelli and Ana Cláudia Gruszynski.

Zig and Zag” is one of ten ciberpoems created by the writer Sérgio Capparelli and the graphic designer Ana Cláudia Gruszynski for “Ciberpoesia” website that features a series of 28 visual poems created by the Brazilian duo. Like “Bembo’s Zoo,” this is more than just digital versions for visual poems also published in a printed book, the ciberpoems of Capparelli and Gruszynski has an important educational role, it catches the interest of children and youth for digital poetry through creative and stimulating presentation.

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“The Seven Wonders” by Alan Bigelow

Open “The Seven Wonders” by Alan Bigelow

This webyarn takes us on a journey through the mind of the speaker triggered by ingredients while he explores his kitchen. The speaker makes a bizarre connection between seven ingredients (flour, pepper, sugar, salt, olive oil, vinegar, thyme) and his romantic relationship with a woman who has abandoned him. It is structured as a linear narrative that follows the same pattern with each kitchen ingredient: the revealing of the ingredient, the explanation its historical significance or its use in both positive and negative ways, a video is incorporated as a companion, and finally the connection between the ingredient, the speaker, and his relationship.

Similarly to another one of Bigelow’s works, “In a World Without Electricity,” the speaker of “The Seven Wonders” reconstructs past events in order to make sense of them. In the earlier work, the speaker reminisces over the death of someone close to him, while in “The Seven Wonders” the speaker examines his seemingly finalized amorous relationship with a long gone woman in the hopes of finding closure.

Seven Wonders Pepper

Each ingredient serves a purpose. The speaker is comparing each one to romantic relationship and its components. By doing so, in sixteen days the speaker comes to terms with the apparent end of his relationship. The flour represents the foundation any relationship should have, and without which it can crumble. Pepper is the most traded spice in the World which the speaker compares to how people use superficial love to spice up a burgeoning relationship. The speaker is implying that “love” has been cheapened and commercialized the same way pepper has. Next comes sugar and so on with the remaining ingredients. The photos of the ingredients are in close, macroscopic scale, comparable to the way the speaker is analyzing his relationship, and also evoking the monumental Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The GIFs represent the journey the absent lover is taking starting at the Niagara Falls and ending…

Well that’s for you to discover, dear reader.

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