The rules of language — coding and poetics — occupy our current moment of automated poetics, and Nick Montfort, as a poet and a scholar, a theorist of the future, and an artist, creates the future through his computer-generated poetics, bending the rules of these languages. With multiple dimensions to his wide-ranging and innovative poetic practice, he is the author of over fifteen books of poetry and theory on digital media such as The New Media Reader (2003), Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (2003), Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System (2009), 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 (2010), Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities (2016), and The Future (2017), all from MIT Press.
This past summer, I taught a poetry workshop on technology at Literary Arts Center. While the two — poetry and technology — seem disparate, the workshop explored how technology is intimate, poetic and humanized, and how the poetic is technologized. In our digital everyday, language has become even more punctuated and transformed. Exploring literary essays, poetry, technological writing, and technology in our everyday lives, poets wrote speculative poetry and prose poems, made visual poetry, and played with code. What follows is a compilation of poetry and audio poems created by poets in the Beyond Baroque Electrical Currents Through Language Workshop. Select poems featured include work by Jasmine An, Raquel Baker, Susan Kraft, and Fred Maus, and our guest poet Neil Aiken.
The reading of a poem, a poetry reading, is not a spectacle, nor can it be passively received. It’s an exchange of electrical currents through language — Adrienne Rich, “Someone is Writing A Poem”
As a dynamic queer Black artist from the Bay Area, Vanessa received national attention in 2017 with her organization Reclaim UGLY, which was featured in Vice, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and RaceBaitr, and which educates communities about what uglification is and how it works to marginalize people who don’t fit the normative notions of beauty or respectability, rejecting those standards and finding a way to feel beautiful in one’s own skin. Prior to founding Reclaim UGLY, Vanessa was the senior and co-managing editor for feminist magazines Black Girl Dangerous and Everyday Feminism, an instructor at multiple Bay Area Community College and grassroots art organizations, the fundraising and development coordinator for the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, and the artistic director of the queer Black liberatory theatre project, Congregation of Liberation.
Mail art has often been understood as a participatory, collective, and intimate poetic exercise. How to write and share poetry collectively during a pandemic? This summer, I had the pleasure of working closely with a group of dynamic young writers in a creative research collective that utilized virtual poetry postcards. To help foster connections, conversations, and creativity across Zoom screens, the students created a virtual poetry project where they shared an image and poem every week with one another.