[-empyre-] to all members: what is e-poetry to you?

Jason Nelson heliopod at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 3 23:49:07 EST 2009


(Thanks Davin and Alan for chipping in early).

I know the notion of defining a genre/art/movement etc 
can be painful.

But to being this conversation, I'm interested in people's stories
about how they define E-poetry to others....anecdotes about
describing their or other's work during interviews, dates, tenure
reviews etc.  I have the hunch that much of the future fate of
E-Poetry will be determined by how well we can share/show
and tell what we do.

One thing I do....at parties is I line up objects from the room.
And then I ask the person to make a poem out of them. Then
I ask another person to add objects to that object poem, branching
them out, or stacking them up. I tell them to see each object
as a sign, a symbol, a text. What kind of poem does hairbrush,
remote control, Pepsi bottle, matches make?  From there, I have
them use and move the objects.....or look at the room as one
large interactive poem.  Then I say....so imagine that but in
a web page or game interface or moving sliding movement
across a screen.  

Most have no idea, but there are enough....."ahhhhhhhh ok!!'s
to keep me trying.

and others?

----- Original Message ----
From: davin heckman <davinheckman at gmail.com>
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 10:00:23 AM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] to begin define e-poetry

Thanks for starting this, Jason.

Talking about e-poetry is something is something I guess I prefer to
do when I am "out drinking," because then I have an excuse for saying
things I later regret.  So, while I was really drinking coffee all
day, I'll take advantage of the medium, and let you think, if you'd
prefer, that I am half-smashed.  And, what the hell, maybe I am.  It's
my spring break.  I could be a burglar trapped in Davin's basement,
eating small amounts of rat poison, as far as anyone knows.  Stranger
things have happened.

But, I guess I'd have to say that electronic poetry is not all that
different from other poetry in its intent.  As far as I can reckon,
the best poetry comes when a writer tries to make something excessive
out of something limited.  These limitations can result from
consciously adopted formal constraints, or they can be imposed by the
limitations of language, culture, imagination, or material form.

I am less concerned with the specific form that a poem takes, although
this question is always critical after the fact.  Shakespeare's plays
deserve consideration alongside Faulkner's novels, Neruda alongside
Dante, Jason Nelson alongside the Pixies.  But having said that,
electronic poetry comes about at a very specific place and time in
history--it is couched within a set of expectations that dictate how
digital media ought to be read, it is situated within the larger
history of poetry, it is made using particular tools, it is coming
about during a particular cultural milieu characterized by
globalization, media culture, neoliberalism, and "postmodernism," and
its critics tend to be trained in a set of critical orientations
(cultural studies, poststructuralism, posthumanism, queer theory,
etc.).  All of these specifics place their own limitations on what and
how the poet is to achieve an expression that transcends these

In a nutshell, electronic poetry is tasked with representing what it
means to be human (both in form and content), at a time when people,
cultures, societies are in crisis over what this even means.
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