Did someone just get tired?

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.

1 comment
  1. I appreciate your idea of defining this form of literature as something other than poetry. I understand why this form was dubbed “poetry” under this course. The works we’ve explored are quite the opposite of prose, which by common standards, would categorize them as poetry. Yet, in terms of the poetry we have studied in English courses for years and years, it is so different than anything we’ve ever seen. Perhaps there will be a new term developed for this “digital poetry” one day…

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