“How They Brought the News from Paradise” by Alan Bigelow

Screen capture from "How They Brought the News from Paradise" by Alan Bigelow. A dark, stormy night on the open sea where the ships are being violently rocked by the waves, and palm trees and hills can be seen in the far distance. Text: "A skull and crossbones fluttered / over a long, wooden plank / - the bar - / with its beer taps, shot glasses / and alcoholic ballast."
Open “How They Brought the News from Paradise” by Alan Bigelow

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.

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“217 Views of the Tokaido Line” by Will Luers

Screenc apture from “217 Views of the Tokaido Line” by Will Luers. White background with a set of three pictures. Text: "his life now / a stationary shop / pilgrims".
Open “217 Views of the Tokaido Line” by Will Luers

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.

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“Google Earth: A Poem for Voice and Internet” by Manuel Portela

Screen capture of “Google Earth: A Poem for Voice and Internet” by Manuel Portela. Google Earth satellite imagery of several towns and cities with differing angles of the author giving a lecture. No text.
Open “Google Earth: A Poem for Voice and Internet” by Manuel Portela

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.

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“Uncontrollable Semantics (2012 edition)” by Jason Nelson

Screen capture from “Uncontrollable Semantics (2012 edition)” by Jason Nelson. Black background with various images in the foreground that overlap each other. There is a text box on one of the images with various lines of text written on it. Text: "planes crack up" "Never repeat again. Again."
Open “Uncontrollable Semantics (2012 edition)” by Jason Nelson

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.

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“Speak Poems” by Jason Edward Lewis, Bruno Nadeau, Jim Andrews, David Jhave Johnston, J.R. Carpenter, and Aya Karpinska

"Speak App" by Jason Edward Lewis and Bruno Nadeau
“Speak App” by Jason Edward Lewis and Bruno Nadeau

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.

Featured in ELO 2013: Chercher le Texte Virtual Gallery

“Between Page and Screen” by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse

“Of Day, Of Night” by Megan Hayward

“Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl” by J.R. Carpenter

“Sea and Spar Between” by Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland

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Open “Sea and Spar Between” by Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland

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.

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“MUPS” by David Jhave Johnston

Screen capture of "MUPS" by David Jhave Johnston. Plain white background with a rectangle made out of minuscule black squares, although a small amount are painted red. Charts appear on the other side of the big rectangle.
Open “MUPS” by David Jhave Johnston

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.

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