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

Hi Jim

I was  trying to be provocative here to arouse some discussion!  I was
somewhat tongue in cheek, and obviously the  notion of the 'good writer'
begs many questions, since this is a changing category.  I was simply
trying to say that in order to produce something really interesting in the
area of new media writing you have to be extraordinarily creative with
language and extraordinarily good technically, and there are not many
people yet  who have both types of expertise. A lot of people who have a
great feel for language and are excited by the new media may just not have
the technical expertise required for new media writing,  though they may be
able to get over that hurdle through collaboration.  New media writers
often have professional training in computing which at the moment gives
them a big advantage, and means they are the ones who are likely to make
the running, though this will cease to be the case as people grow up with
computers and automatically acquire that technical background.

I certainly don't think that work that reads well on the page is likely to
read well without transformaation as a new media text, and I agree that
writers have to shift considerably to the demands of the medium. The medium
is everything.


>> 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.
>empyre forum

Dr. Hazel Smith
Senior Research Fellow
School of Creative Communication
Deputy Director
University of Canberra Centre for Writing
Editor of Inflect
University of Canberra
ACT 2601
phone 6201 5940
More about my creative work at

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