RE: [-empyre-] Re:hello to empyre

> I suppose one of the things that interested me was the divide between
> writers in the digital media and writers who are known through print -I
> know there are some cross overs (and some of them are on this list) but not
> very many. A lot of the writers who are big in digital media wouldn't be
> known to people who read experimental print poetry and (dare I say it!)  I
> don't feel that digital writing  is always attracting the best writers,
> though it is changing definitions of what a writer can be which is great.

just got back from a trip with no e. eeless in vernon for a few days. wow. reality. o'keefe
ranch. okanagan lake. family. quite the trip. funeral. ah. we took elinor home. i rode with her
ashes in the car as we drove into the graveyard. she was looking out the window. very green and
lush day. the hills of Armstrong. she hadn't been home to the Okanagan in years. neither had i.
didn't want to put her in the ground.

interesting question, hazel. one would want to qualify the idea that digital writing doesn't
attract the best writers with the observation that 'good writing' in one medium may not be so
good in another, ie, a poemy poem on a computer screen can seem pretty lonely or inept or
perhaps 'inappropriately published' or like it's oblivious to the circumstances of its
existence. and very well-designed work can lack interest as writing. and strictly conceptual
work that is well-programmed can lack experiential strength. and and and. or.

of course there's something to what you say. and it was observed, for instance, not long ago in
The New York Review of Books concerning narrative in electronic work. mind you, i don't think
we'll find michael ondaatje or whomever switching to digital writing. he is extrordinarily
skilled at writing for the page and he lives there. but i do think that we'll see the best minds
in poetry associated with the digital. not in fiction and other page forms, though. not in page

the most interesting digital writing, to my warped mind, is not baby steps from print. i think
that in looking at/reading stuff on the net/web that is baby steps from print, the phenomena you
note are most observable. why would you publish work that is baby steps from print on the net or
web? some writers have compelling reasons to do this (and aren't really baby steps from print,
even in non-programmed work), but most do it for less than compelling reasons and would be
better off publishing in print (if they could get published). on the other hand, those who try
to do something in programming and/or graphics and/or sound and/or video often fall flat out of
minimal vision/bad ears/little animated sense of how they can go together. and usually aren't
stellar writers, either, it's true.

i read experimental poetry in the magazines for years. but those mags bore me now, i confess.
the edge of experimental writing is in the digital, or that's how it seems to me. how could i
say such a thing? but it consists of many edges, like the knives in a blender. and most get
diced by them or produce pablum.

> I don't really know how pront-based experimental poets these days can claim
> to be experimental (that is interested in trying new forms and approaches)
> if they don't engage with digital forms to a limited degree. I don't see
> how they ignore this kind of revolution. I suppose the technical expertise
> needed is a barrier, but maybe they can get over that through collaboration.

it is a vastly different form of literacy. it is not baby steps from print.

but, yes, collaboration is sometimes a beautiful thing, yeah vowel. when both of the artists
are, for whatever reason, drawn to it. hard to arrange this, unfortunately. and they probably
need to have equal status artistically for it really to go. and, if we're talking collaboration
between experienced new media writers and experienced plain old writers, then the form of the
new media created by the new media writer (they generally create the form) has to support
*something* of print poetics. by 'support' i mean that there needs to be room and attention to
that sort of eloquence (whereas some new media writing forms are intent on deconstructing it
rather than supporting it).

i just got back from a trip to where i grew up, a small town in british columbia. i spent a lot
of time with my 92 year old auntie anna who was an english teacher and (still is a) political
activist and is probably to blame for me being a writer. she taught poetry and literature. i
never studied (in school) under her but she was a great aunt to me. and taught me how to dance
and swim and sing and was generally a big influence on me. we went over to her grandson's place
and i showed her some of my work on the internet. she doesn't have a computer and has never
surfed the internet. it was kinda like showing her the dark side of mars. and probably my work
looks that way to most people who have never surfed the internet and experienced exe's and so
forth. i don't think anna will be buying a computer any time soon. but that's ok.

i showed my work to another friend, a poet, who's 65. she got a kick out of it but it is of no
relevance to her as a print poet. my work is not a concern of hers and her work isn't a concern
of mine but we respect one another and hang out and have great fun together. her work and my
work are different worlds, but we inhabit the same one in most ways.

the audience for good work in new media is composed of those who are literate in new media, or
want to be, who find something of the story of their lives there, who seek something of the
story of their lives there, their ways of making sense of writing and song and story and life.
If that isn't there, then they aren't part of the audience.

two print poets can be worlds apart from one another in their work, have no interest in or
understanding of each other's work. 'language poets' don't have much to do with some other types
of poets, for instance, often.

but what can bring us together? shared purpose. venues that further both print and digital art
in the wildest, most energetic ways. it'll happen. it already does, but not much.

> To go back to a previous postings on whether its useful to talk about
> electronic poetry I agree that a wider category like cyberwriting or
> hypermedia seems more pertinent. But I suppose using the word poetry is a
> way of addressing the issue of how poetry is changing and not letting print
> writers off the hook. It's a kind of political gesture which in some ways
> is quite useful.

Well said.

And it's also a gesture to the future because poetry will not remain predominantly an art of
print forever.


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