21.117 no poetry on the Web???

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 07:20:17 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 117.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 07:12:08 +0100
         From: "Matt Kirschenbaum" <mkirschenbaum_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: Re: 21.109 no poetry on the Web???

> Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 06:44:12 +0100
> From: schmidt_at_itee.uq.edu.au
[. . .]

>I think this is at least partly due to our failure in finding a suitable form
>for poetry in the digital world.

That plural possessive ("our") does not serve the conversation well.
Many have found many suitable forms for poetry in the digital world. I
know of no better place to start than

>It differs from prose in that almost all
>poetical works go through a much longer series of drafts. The text emerges
>almost like a dimmer switch being turned up, gradually focussing on
the images
>the poet wants to convey. I like the quote from Paul Valery: 'There are no
>finished poems, only abandoned ones'. We can't represent that yet in the
>digital medium where everything must be so stark and explicit.

I love the Valery, but would have to take issue with the rest of the
assumptions and generalizations here. Electronic poetry bears the mark
of its own making in ways students of the form have worked to
articulate. See http://eliterature.org/pad/elp.html, as well as my own
(forthcoming) Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination.

>Actually the
>print medium was worse: one couldn't change a text once printed but one can
>change an electronic text.


>When the transformation to a digital society is finally complete
>there may be a place for poetry in it.

What a terribly long time to have to wait!

Best, Matt

Matthew Kirschenbaum
Assistant Professor of English
Associate Director,
Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)
University of Maryland
301-405-8505 or 301-314-7111 (fax)
Received on Fri Jun 22 2007 - 02:33:59 EDT

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