“I Heart E-Poetry” by Nick Montfort

Screen capture from "I Heart E-Poetry" by Nick Montfort. Short phrases comprised of two nouns and a symbol in between that functions as a transitive verb, in the same fashion as the work's title. Text: "Words (crescent moon symbol) O Conceptualism / We (checkmark) #Poetry / Eyes (copyright symbol) iSymbolism / We (crescent moon symbol) 'Erasure / Y'all (heart) #Punctuation / we (copyright symbol) iVerse / Eyes (heart) E-Erasure / Traditionalists (ampersand) iFashion / Eyes (copyright symbol) O Erasure / Words (club symbol) iConceptualism"
Open “I Heart E-Poetry” by Nick Montfort

This occasional poem celebrates the presentation of “I ♥ E-Poetry: 500 Entries Later” at E-Poetry 2013 on June 19, 2013. Based on Montfort’s own “Taroko Gorge” source code, this stripped down version generates lines inspired by the title of this blog (“I ♥ E-Poetry”) using four variables: a subject, a symbol, a prefix, and an artform. Part of the pleasure of this piece lies in reading it aloud, especially its symbols, which represent words compressed into single characters. Montfort understands the computational aspect of these characters, encoded into alphabetic systems such as (Ascii and Unicode) and decoded by both machines and humans. These symbols carry great amounts of cultural information, referencing card suits and avant garde artistic and literary movements, such as the ‘Pataphysical apostrophe.

The best tribute a writer can receive is an indication that a reader understood one of the finer points in their work, as Montfort has with the title of this project. I explained the title in a recently published interview at Litteraturtidsscriftet Lasso, which began with “Why do you <3 E-Poetry?”

To answer your question, I “♥” E-Poetry for several reasons.

I’m glad you avoided verbalizing the <3 (or ♥) symbol from the blog’s title, because it’s a meaningful design choice for my project. The heart symbol is a repurposing of a famous bit of rebus writing that entered the American idiom with the I ♥ NY ad campaign. Part of its fun is that it can be read as “love” or “heart,” both accurate interpretations of the logograph. Plus, I want to sell t-shirts (not really :-).

Seriously though, I use the ♥ symbol in my blog’s title because it is a graphical element that has entered language at a foundational level in computational environments: it is encoded as a character and processed like any other letter or number symbol. It operates like a variable in a little program that when executed by a human reader (using the latest version of English) produces either “love” or “heart.”

I “love” e-poetry because it is poetry: a literary genre, a language function, and a media-based poesis. As a lifelong student of poetry, I love to witness how some poetic movements extend their language inquiry into digital media and how new ones emerge from their affordances and constraints.  E-Poetry arises from artistic engagements of language in digital media, rather than from the use of digital environments merely as a means for publication of poetry created for other media. Poetry is the most concentrated use of language and I’m fascinated by the expressive potential of language in any medium, but particularly in electronic or digital environments because they are important past, present, and future spaces for human communication.

I “heart” e-poetry because it flows through my academic body of work as my life blood. The blog is also a mechanism by which I can help circulate e-poetry through multiple networks. Much like a heart pumps blood through the lungs and sends oxygenated blood coursing through the body, I bring e-poetry into myself through daily reading, write about it, and send it back into the network, hopefully in a revitalized way.

Nick Montfort’s poem recognizes the multiplicity of interpretations one can get from the title, extending it to some of the many names that can be used to represent “e-poetry.”
And honors this blog tremendously.

Share the ♥.