Out of all the pieces of the puzzle that I have dubbed digital poetry this semester, I find one idea most intriguing. Although the course focuses on poetry in a digital media form, we still explored several print text versions. Starting with Jena Osman’s The Network and moving all the way towards the recent book, NOX by Anne Carson, I often struggled to see how these fit into the title of the course. I have come to find that digital poetry not only encompasses those works we must use computers to read and understand, but also focuses on printed forms, how they are produced using modern technology, and our way of thinking about poetry (and possibly literature as a whole) in the digital era. The poems we read hardly recognizable with what we would typically associate with poetry. I would even argue that they are not “poetry” but likely deserve a new, revolutionized title. I for one am not ready to coin such a term…
As for the future of poetry, I draw heavily upon one piece we’ve studied in this course and referenced several times over: Reality Hunger. The concept that a fraction of one’s words can be combined with existing text and transformed into a whole book that maintains an obvious theme is incredibly fascinating. In an age with so much information readily available at the touch of a screen or the click of a mouse, how do we maintain our self and autonomy through our words? Will they remain our own, or do they automatically become part of the mega structured network that the Internet has become today? Has it become more acceptable to take on another’s words as your own?
In the words of David Shield’s himself: “Language is a city, to the building of which every human being has brought a stone, yet each of us is no more to be credited with the grand result than the acaleph which adds a cell to the coral reef that is the basis of the continent..”
….ok, now what if I told you that was really taken from Emerson. Does that diminish the quotes value in any shape or form? The future of words, poetry, and literature is guaranteed to be an interesting one – a theft of creativity or a perhaps new form of art.
This semester has taught me a lot more about poetry than I anticipated it would. I’ve taken several other classes that address the topic of poetry as a whole, but never one so narrowly focused on electronic poetry as a separate genre. I say “narrowly”, but that’s probably not the right word considering how broadly it seems to be used. “Reality Hunger” made me realize just how much plagiarism can be used to prove a point, and how effective and meaningful a remix can actually become. RACTER’s “The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed” taught me about computer-generated works in ways I had never seen. As a computational media major, I was impressed by the level of syntax and meaning created by a machine. Each work we’ve studied throughout the semester has taught me something different, and I think these teachings will make me think differently and more critically about pieces of writing that I study in the future.
As far as “the future of poetry” goes, I see it dividing even more into different genres than it currently is. This semester has coined the term “electronic poetry” for me- but what does that mean? Apparently those two words encompass words bouncing around on a screen, a scrapbook-like elegy, a remix of data and opinions, and code-generated stories. So, if I had to guess (and if I was in charge of the world of poetry), I would expect that things would become more well-defined and subdivided. The variety of works that we’ve called “electronic poetry” this semester has made me come to wonder: Did someone just get tired? Are we getting lazy? Could we not come up with another classification, so all this stuff just got thrown into the category of “poetry”? I believe so. Maybe some of the works we have studied were strictly poetry. Others were electronic poetry. Others were remixes. Some were bound in regular books. One was an accordion fold-style book. Another required the use of a camera to become readable. Many relied on a computer and a screen. Some were interactive, others were not. My point is this: while many of these things may be subsets of poetry, it’s time for some new genres and nomenclature. Rather than calling it all “electronic”, let’s get more specific- remixes, origami, code-generated, webcam-required. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about so many different types of poetry, but in the future I see the field of poetry as a more divided, more structured world.
Over the course of this semester, there have been a couple of things that really stood out to me. One was the development of poetry (and writing in general) over time, and the other was the whole idea of remix.
To me, poetry always seemed pretty constant over time. Although I recognized the changes that took place as language moved from historical record to art, I never realized until the Bernstein article that it was moving beyond personal expression. Some people’s poetry, in a lot of ways, is more of a scientific study or exploration of the thing we call language than it is a personal expression of an idea or a belief.
The thing that made the biggest impact on me over the course of this semester was the idea of remix. To make something fresh and new out of what already exists appeals to me, probably for the same reason that I find business so fascinating. Everything we do is contained within a framework of some sort. I have found that by setting my boundaries tightly (i.e. assembling a poem from a Robert Frost word bank or rearranging the work of others with no changes), I force myself into deeper exploration of the my ideas and the language. By limiting my “horizontal” domain, I access more of my existing “vertical” range.
I think David Shields was probably doing a little bit of the same thing that I have throughout this course. He explores the very things I find most interesting in poetry: shifts in communication, the meaning of language and expression, re-use/borrowing/pirating of others’ work. By taking what others have made and repurposing it for his own goals, he efficiently (there’s the business again!) and effectively creates a new product with old material.
These are my rambling thoughts about a somewhat rambling experience this semester. [Insert Ramblin Wreck joke here.] My somewhat lazy interest in poetry has actually been stirred up just in time. I’m graduating in 3 weeks, getting married in 5, and starting my job full time in 6. I think I’ll try my hand/mind/heart at some poetry of my own.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this class. My advisor had emailed our major list stating that this would count for a required course. It fit in the time slot that I needed, so I registered. I had no expectations.
When I tell my colleagues that I am in a digital poetry class, they are immediately intrigued and ask me what that means. And now, at the end of the semester, I can actually answer that question. I usually say, “It is exactly what the name implies- poetry in an electronic or digital form. It is looking at and interpreting poems through a digital culture lens. It is simply new.” And because I go to a school filled with engineers, they usually nod and smile and write me off as loony liberal arts major.
Now, at the end of the semester I am considering what I think of digital poetry now. Or just simply poetry in its simplest form. And my honest opinion is that of Bernstein: “Alphabetic technology does not replace oral technology anymore than cars replace walking. But it does shift the balance and writing registers the change. After all, poetry precedes prose, but prose does not abolish poetry. Prose has killed poetry many times but poetry doesn’t seem to get the message.”
I believe that this movement to digital poetry is just another instance where poetry has escaped its prose-y death. Digital poetry is trying to keep poems new and relavent and ever provocative. It is a testament to poetry’s ignorance towards prose’s death wish for it. And it works because this massive trend towards electronic culture.
In “Key Elements of Digital Media,” Miller quotes Mark Poster about thinking along the lines of individual versus multiple identity: “Poster associated this more critical thinking, actively engaged subject with the contexts Of multiple and diffuse identity formation associated with postmodernism: ‘Electronic culture promotes the individual as an unstable identity in a continuous process of multiple identity formation’ (Poster, 1995: 59).” (Miller, 13)
This is to digital poetry’s advantage since our digital culture is so fragmented with its multiple identity formation. Poems can be fragmented- picked up, put down. Prose is not dynamic like that.
I have learned many things from this course. Most of all though- poetry is not dead. It might actually be catching a second wind.
Throughout the semester we have read and listen to all types of poetry. We have discovered that poetry is sometimes difficult to understand and sometimes it is easy to read. Poetry can connect people spiritually as well as emotionally. Poetry can be described as a form of art as well as speaking to your heart from within. There are all types of different poetry in the world, one that is interesting is digital poetry.
One thing I have discovered about poetry in the digital age is the computer allows the writer to expand its skills by using more text, sound, images, and making more movement. With tools like this, it allows the writer to be a better poet every time they write different poetry. Poetry in the digital age also consists of poems you can click on and music starts playing. Storyline is an example of a digital poem we read in class and it consisted of clickable sounds and readings. We also read a poem from class which was about hurricane Katrina. The poem was very creative and consisted of a lot of digital things like sound, text, and powerful content I also have discovered that more artists are using digital poetry because it makes it easier for them to publish. I can see simple and creative writing declining in the future because of how popular digital poetry has become. The tools of poetry are becoming more powerful and productive. The sky is the limit for any future poets trying to make it to the top. Poetry in the future will be really amazing to experience because the content today is already becoming a really difficult to understand. We read a poem from class which was about hurricane Katrina. The poem was very creative and consisted of a lot of digital things like sound, text, and powerful content. With technology still improving and with more poets continuing to use digital poetry, the world is going to be filled with great artist and books. That is how I see poetry in the future.
First let me say i have come a long way to understanding the movement of poetry into the digital culture. I stood in the lights of many and was a firm believer that poetry should always have some type of rhyme and rhythm. Now that poetry has really evolved in the digital culture it has really mutated into somethings special and crafty. I say farewell ”Romeo, Romeo where art thou Romeo,” there is fun things like interaction, database, hypermedia, and even more plagiarism.
Now that poetry has left the constraints of black ink and white paper it has become more flamboyant in the digital culture. In our reading with Miller, he discuss the “Key Element of Digital Culture” which are digital, network, interactive, and hypermedia. With poetry taking on these aspects the content is now allowed to open up windows and move in a direction to explore. Being able to experience digital culture in “The Dreamlife of Letter” shows just how interactive and poetry can be. No more boring pages to flip through, now it has evolved to sounds, pictures, hyperlinks, and a voyage to representation of content. Poetry now has a database that can be retrieved and put together in a matter of seconds. This data is constantly changing while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of literature and critical thinking.
I am also interested in the discovery and honesty over the matter of plagiarism and stating that memory is selective. Reading the Reality Hunger, one of David Shields lines is “Good poets borrow; great poets steal”. This line particularly stood out to me because with the digital culture being so accesible people are constantly grabbing bites and pieces of materials and making it their own. Even with the book “Nets” it is all Shakespeare work that is cliff noted to make a whole new form of poetry. I would say this is typically the American way with remixing other authors materials and giving it a new name.
In the future I think poetry will discover something new and find some more uncharted techniques to explore. With the internet database flowing over our computers I believe poetry will thrive and never fade away. Poetry is like a cockroach, it will never die only left to mutate and find more ways to survival.
Attending this class has changed my perception on reading poetry. I have always thought of poetry to just be a bunch of stanzas where lines 1 and 3 rhymed (odd lines) as well as lines 2 and 4 (even lines). At the end of this class, I have learned many things and I see poetry much differently now. I have always thought of poetry to be hand written by human beings, so I was shocked while reading RACTER that poetry is beginning to transform from hand written styles by humans to digital writings by computers. If that is not enough, human author are trying to emulate those computer writings! (evident by the book Eunioa).
I have also learn that poetry is becoming very digitalized because you can do so many different things like : make it an e book or e game , make it very aesthetically pleasing with different beautiful elements that would make a visual learner very entertained! The readings that qualify for an e book is the Blue Velvet reading about the struggles of New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina Catastrophe.
this reminds me of Miller’s “Key elements of Digital Media” with the broadcast vs internet models and how they can connect to its receivers. Digital Poetry is more of an internet model because more people can interact over the internet about different opinions because Youtube, emails, and social networks make that possible. This is why our culture is slowing doing away with hardback books.
Deep inside, I am against the future ways of poetry but I know it will be necessarily useful for future generations. The reason why I am against is because pretty soon, humans wont think for their selves and will completely rely on computer engines for everything. I mean we already do everything by computer: research, social network, read articles etc…
Pretty soon we will read and understand things like the Page and Screen booking. I think it is the perfect example because although Page and Screen is an physical book, you cant read it without the help of digital technology. You need a computer and a web cam! really??!! This is the reason why I believe we will do away with physical books and everything will be digitally read in the near future(look back on the internet broadcast to understand why I believe so). I also believe that e book and e games will be much more dynamic , aesthetic wise because they will find more ways for the reader to be able to interact with the readings and as well interact with other readers via the internet
When I came into class this semester poetry was, to me, nothing more than verses often metered. The class has without a doubt changed my outlook on poetry; I now see that in our era of digital media poetry has evolved and adapted to digital culture, breaking my mental conception of poetry. One of my first discoveries was heavily influenced by Osman’s The Network. The form of Osman’s poems were a bit odd to me, but nothing that did not fit my conception of poetry. However the more I read the more apparent it became that the poetry was mimicking a database. The idea that poetry had advanced to the point where it was acting like a digital object rather than just using the digital medium as a means to an end shook my world. Another discovery I made came between the tension between Key Elements of Digital Media and Born Digital. The two listed requirements for media to be digital, yet did not perfectly agree. The biggest disagreement was that Born Digital requires a digital poem to be coded in “creation, preservation, and display” while Key Elements of Digital Media never explicitly states that. It was not until we looked at Between Page and Screen that I realized that the disconnect was a perfect way to describe poetry in our digital age. The book exists without a digital aspect, but its true nature is inaccessible without webcam and QR reading code. Likewise, the reverse is true – the digital cannot be accessed without the book. The struggle where digital cannot exist without the written is the future I foresee for digital poetry. Although we have seen some digital poetry that is completely digital, completely digital poetry starts entering the realm of other media, such as film, animation, or games. The best, truly digital, poetry we have looked at are the poems, like The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed and Between Screen and Page, that deal with both a digital and a print aspect. I expect that in addition to continuation with this tension that we will begin to see a larger level of interaction between content and audience.
This semester, I’ve experienced a great deal of exposure to texts I never would have delved into myself. It is safe to say that my definition of poetry, and maybe even of art, has changed a great deal. Before, I knew poetry did not have to rhyme, but I was much more comfortable if it did rhyme. The ABAB rhyme scheme was something that I could examine objectively and say “this is poetry.” Now, I know poetry does not have to rhyme to be considered poetry. It does not even have to be purely words on a page. It can include images and other artifacts, or words chosen by a computer algorithm, or even purely cuts of words from other peoples’ poetry.
Although we have often stressed in this class to not worry so much about the “author’s intention” in our search for the meaning in the poetry, I think sometimes whether we should classify something as poetry or not poetry has everything to do with author’s intention. If Nox was sold in the biographies section of Barnes and Noble, we may not see it as poetry. But it is sold in the poetry section, so it is a poem. Anne Carson (or her publisher, perhaps) made that intentional decision.
Putting together all the different things we have talked about over the course of this semester, I am forced to broaden my definition of poetry as being simply an inspired written product whose purpose is to entertain and whose reality is subjective (meaning, the ‘real facts’ of the poem are subjective and cannot be argued the way the ‘real facts’ of a story or informational essay can.) What this means for the future of poetry is that it will eventually boil down to just be words. The process and authorship are no longer important, as we see in “The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed.” Though sometimes there is a specific rhythm or scheme to the process, as we see in the A-Z sections of Reality Hunger, this is not something that is present in all poems. With the progression of digital technology as a medium for expression, I think we will see more examples similar to “The Dreamlife of Letters” that incorporate visual effects to enhance the aesthetics of the word. Overall, these things will add entertainment value but may take away from a uniform process for defining poetry.
Throughout this course we have examined a variety of different digital poems. Some works, like Osman’s The Network, take the database concept and apply it to poetry. Other works, like The Dreamlife of Letters and Between Print and Screen use digital technology as a means to create a new and unique user experience that cannot be replicated through the traditional print medium. One thing is for sure, my traditional definition of poetry no longer holds true. The digital age has pushed the boundaries of poetry. Reading poems that lack human authors and poems that are created without intention forced me to rethink what purpose poetry serves. These works echo the words of Bernstein in The Art of Immemorability:
“Poetry in a digital age can do more than simply echo the past with memorable phrases. It can also invent the present in language never before heard.”
Based on the works that we have examined, I believe that poets will continue to explore new ways of utilizing new technologies in their work. I do not think that traditional poetry will disappear; however, the proliferation and advancement of the internet will make it a much more appealing medium to work with. The number of solely digital pieces will increase and the line between digital poetry and digital art will continue to blur.
Out of the different styles of digital poetry we have examined I think automated pieces will become much more common. The poems that RACTER was able to produce were very complex. It wrote The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed in 1984. Imagine what can be created with today’s technology. Ironically, the creators of these new automated works will be programmers… not poets.