digital poem

Loving e-poetry

Banner from the I Love E-Poetry project

Do you ♥ e-poetry? Leonardo Flores certainly does. Flores, an associate professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, is the driving force behind the I ♥ E-Poetry project, an online scholarly compendium of electronic poetry. E-poetry is part of a growing genre of creative writing known as "electronic literature" or "e-lit." According to the Electronic Literature Organization, e-lit includes literary texts that embrace the affordances of computing or networked technologies in their composition. Examples include hypertext fiction, poetry bots, and literature composed collaboratively online.

The human text

Last week in The New York Times, Shelley Podolny considered the growing amount of computer-generated text that appears online. With the dystopian title "If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Even Know?" Podolny describes a study by media scholar Christer Clerwell that suggests readers may not be able to distinguish between computer- or human-generated text. Such a phenomenon speaks to growing sophistication of natural language processing software and finely-tuned algorithms that can produce humanoid content.

Tweets, poems, and... kimchi?

Image of Margaret Rhee's installation "The Kimchi Poetry Project"
Margaret Rhee's installation "The Kimchi Poetry Project"

Kimchi, a Korean side dish of fermented vegetables and spices, is perhaps best known as a polarizing condiment, engendering love, hatred, and YouTube videos of screaming children trying it for the first time. It is also serves as inspiration for the work of Margaret Rhee, a feminist new media artist and scholar. In The Kimchi Poetry Project, she asks, "What feminist methods, histories, and stories can we unearth and create through the poetics of kimchi?" (Rhee, "Installation - The Kimchi Poetry Project"). Rhee's innovative work explores the possibilities at the intersections of kimchi, tweets, and poetry.

After publishing her poem "A Feminist History of Kimchi" in the anthology Conversations at the Wartime Cafe (2011), Rhee was invited to a poetry reading where she asked the audience to make "kimchi poetry" with her. The Kimchi Poetry Project was born. Rhee's participatory poetry venture includes a series of multimedia installations and objects.

Erasing the third dimension

Tan Lin's moving 'Echo'

One of the ways an experience of time is produced in poetic contexts requires engaging our body's memories, such as how we hear a sound. The way sound decays in a space, or how it moves and dimishes across a duration of time, engages our ability to take note of the unfurling present moment. It's a particular attention, fixated on a deeply embodied phenomenon that reinvigorates our ability to locate ourselves in the world. To invoke a sound is to invoke the body in present time. 

I find this link between sound, the present, and the body richly explored by Tan Lin's digital poem, “Echo,” archived at UbuWeb. An echo reflects sound waves back to the listener, often in a diminished manner.

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