Second Wind

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.

5 comments

  1. Stephanie Deloach

    I appreciate how you framed this blog – I often have to explain to my colleagues what a course in digital poetry involves and why I am enrolled in such a course. I agree that it was difficult to explain this concept to others at the beginning of the semester, but now after we’ve explored many textual examples, I see better fit to explain such ideas to those intrigued.

  2. Rebecca Hamm

    The quote “Prose has killed poetry many times but poetry doesn’t seem to get the message” rung home for me as well, and I especially like the idea of poetry getting a second wind in new forms. Engineers can make fun all they want, but why wouldn’t the creative folks of the world use their technology to transform our creativity?

  3. Charles Greenewald

    I felt the same way when describing it to others. People who aren’t from Tech assume I’m an engineer, so when they hear “poetry” they actually expect the “digital.” The last thing they expect is my next sentence: “It’s really fun, and I’m learning a lot.”

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