This narrative poem tells the mock-heroic adventures of an unlikely antihero on an imaginary quest. As Bigelow describes the piece,
In “How They Brought the News from Paradise to Paterson,” a first-person speaker narrates his story (in heroic verse) as he swims from one end of a resort pool complex to another in search of what he thinks is more alcohol, but is in fact a journey to find his marriage
and himself. The poem plays with the epic and tragic within a setting stifled with consumerism and class separation.
The poem is structured as the monomyth, in which the speaker, while lounging at the Paradise pool bar in a 5-star resort in Barbados, overhears what he interprets as a call to adventure: the bar has run out of rum. Taking upon himself to embark upon a journey through the pool complex to find the god-like Concierge at the far end, whose “sage advice / and quick, imperious commands” would restore the flow of rum in Paradise.
This mesmerizing work of observational poetry juxtaposes a generative haiku with a split-screen 6 minute looping video composed of short clips captured along the Tokaido line. Luers’ statement explains the concept in detail in the “About” page.
With our small cameras, smartphones and apps we document our travels. We capture and collect “haiku” moments, tokens of time and space, just as we always have, whether with pen and paper or the bulky camcorder. But with digital technology, we now store these moments as files in searchable databases. How do we use them? Do we try to find the narratives in the fragments or hunt for the suprising incongruities? Perhaps we only care about the isolated moment,the singular shot or sequence, which we “share” as soon as it has rendered. However we narrate experience, our devices and their databases remind us that there are always moments lost in any narrative retelling, always a different path through the data.
This highly professional video documents a live performance of this poem, which uses primarily three materials: speeches by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Google Earth. These works are brought together in a political and economic mashup that incorporates texts read aloud by Portela in English and translated to Spanish and Portugese, voice recordings of the speeches, and a large projected video of Google Earth navigating to parts of the world that resonate with the poem. Portela intervenes upon these materials in a variety of ways, defamiliarizing them towards the poetic, emphasizing particular words or passages by isolating and repeating them, and placing them in conversation with its other materials through juxtaposition and superposition.
This hypertext responsive poem is built upon the framework developed for the original “Uncontrollable Semantics” but with two major differences. The first is that it is used to create a clearly more textual experience than the more abstract art original. The second is that it is published in HTML5 by converting the original Flash file with the Google Swiffy service. This means that, while it is an open source work, the code is generated by Google and its data set, texts, and other data are practically unreadable.
“Speak Poems” by Jason Edward Lewis, Bruno Nadeau, Jim Andrews, David Jhave Johnston, J.R. Carpenter, and Aya Karpinska
This suite of poems by several prominent writers in the e-lit community was written using the Speak app, an authoring system developed by Lewis and Nadeau. This is the first in the P.o.E.M.M series (Poems for Excitable Mobile Media), a series of apps designed to explore the expressive, artistic, and publication potential of Apple’s iOS computational environment, Store, and touchscreen devices. The app opens to “What They Speak When They Speak to Me,” Lewis & Nadeau’s original touchscreen poem for large installations. The app offers other poems as well as the option for readers to explore the system by entering texts. Considering the effort that goes into creating computational frameworks for e-lit works, it is a great idea to open them up for further writerly interventions. It is therefore worthwhile to see what four talented writers have done and how their own poetics and thematic concerns are expressed through this framework. The main observable variables are font and lines of text, which readers access in different portions and sequences.
In “Character,”Jim Andrews writes meta textual lines from the personified poem’s voice that focus the reader’s attention on the interface.
Jhave’s “Let Me Tell You What Happened” reveals fragments of a situation that most people would find difficult to speak about.
Carpenter juxtaposes two very different conceptual frames evoked by her poem’s title, “Muddy Mouth.”
Karpinska’s “The Color of Your Hair Is Dangerous” explores linguistic slippages resulting from speaking multiple languages.
It is worth noting that all five poets (including Lewis) engage the theme of speech, structuring their lines to allow readers to intuit their structure. They help map out the framework’s rhetorical potential.
The poems that appear, a series of letters written by two lovers struggling to map the boundaries of their relationship, do not exist on either page or screen, but in the augmented space between them opened up by the reader.
A human being cannot read the book without the aid of a networked computer equipped with a Flash-enabled browser and webcam, as documented in this short video. All they can see is the artfully minimalistic graphic squares which are simplified versions of the more widespread QR codes.
This causes a blurring of the boundaries between media and in the concept of the reader. As people trying to read this book with an iOS tablet may discover, the implied reader is no longer just a human being but also a machine, both integrated in their configuration and behavior to perform the work: a cyborg. For a more detailed explanation of this concept and process, read the section titled “The Cyborg Reader” in pgs. 67-71 of my dissertation (pg. 76 in the freely downloadable PDF file).
Allow yourself to be charmed by the sonorous, semantic, and visual wit of this work as you read its poetic narrative and it reads you.
This multimedia hypertext narrative published by Eastgate Systems integrates media as well as genres, combining video, games, music, voice recording, and poetry. While not purely an electronic poem, its deployment of language is certainly e-poetic, displaying lines of text that hover in strategic parts of the screen when triggered by readers exploring the images placed before them with a mouse or touchscreen controlled pointer.
The way Hayward cuts her writing into lines of verse, even when following the phrasal and rhetorical logic of prose is an example of how the incorporation of language into multimedia digital environments moves towards the poetic. This partly accounts for the strong correlation between concrete and digital poetry: they are informed by the use of language in graphic design, but with artistic rather than commercial goals.
The video documentation linked to above leads to further short videos, which make a compelling argument for purchasing the work and experience it firsthand.
This generative work produces narratives about a mythical sea voyage undertaken by two characters, an owl and a girl. Framed over the gorgeous image an old sea map, each iteration of the story unfolds in a text that lasts 40 seconds before being generated anew, which is sufficient time for most readers to get to the end, but without being distracted by links. Readers that follow links to the shifting islands found in Wikipedia to get information about some of the story’s contexts are likely to return to a different story, in which the information gleaned may no longer be relevant. This disorientation resonates with the owl and girl’s journey, who aided by various navigational and communication technologies, travel beyond the edges of the known, leaving behind some incomplete records of their adventure.
As you read the stories— and I recommend reading multiple iterations to better appreciate its variations on the theme— keep an eye out for some of the textual undercurrents that slowly begin to manifest themselves in different parts of the map. A peek at the source code (right click on a non-image part of the screen and select view source) starting on line 129, reveals a series of five marquees (named “bay,” “rip,” “journal,” “wecoast,” and “morse”) each of which slowly reveals a poetic text, one line at a time. The only one without line breaks is the last one, displayed on the screen almost as the undulations of waves at sea, is actually a written in morse code:
I will not translate the encoded coda for this work, but you can copy and paste the sequence into a decoder, which will allow you to listen to it and read it in English. Its message leads to reflection upon the work as a whole that may lead to further exploration of its narrative geography.
The boundaries of this work are as leaky as some of the ships and cartographic knowledge of the seas referenced in this piece. In addition to the links to Wikipedia, most of the references for the images and marquees are credited in the notes, with the exception of coda referenced above, quoted from a work represented in the following URL: …. – – .—. —-… -..-. -..-. . -. .-.-.- .— .. -.- .. .—. . -.. .. .- .-.-.- —- .-. —. -..-. .— .. -.- .. -..-. -… —- .-. -.…-. .-.. .. -…-. … (encoded to avoid “spoiler” effect). There are flows from other works by Carpenter, such as a QR code in “The Broadside of a Yarn” that brings up a web page with the story generator. It also contains lines from her poem “up from the deep,” published in Jason Lewis’ iOS “Know” app.
This generative poem produces an expert mashup of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, described in detail by the authors in the introduction to their piece.
Sea and Spar Between is a poetry generator which defines a space of language populated by a number of stanzas comparable to the number of fish in the sea, around 225 trillion. Each stanza is indicated by two coordinates, as with latitude and longitude. They range from 0 : 0 to 14992383 : 14992383.
This “online sonic mashup engine” assembles 1260 poetry audio recordings from the Penn Sound archive and provides simple, intuitive tools for very specific kinds of analysis. Whimsically toned like much of Jhave’s work, he could’ve easily used this engine to create an e-poem or a series of them: expressions of the tool and his vision. Instead, he released the tool for users to have their own creative explorations and analysis of the material.