[-empyre-] A poem is a small (or large) machine

Funkhouser, Christopher T. christopher.t.funkhouser at njit.edu
Sat May 6 04:04:18 AEST 2017

naturally, or perhaps i should say cyborganically, following these threads
with interest & appreciate the expansiveness. imo, the Williams quote/poem
is good, of course, but somewhat overused. the poem i chose as
epigraph to *Prehistoric
Digital Poetry* (written by Canadian Lionel Kearns), in favor over anything
else, refers to WCW & takes it further, relevant to this discussion. pasted
here, probably dis-formatted

“The poem is a machine,” said that famous man, and so I’m building one.
Or at least I’m having it built, because I want something big and
impressive and
You see, people will stand in front of it and insert money, dimes or
depending upon the poem’s locus.
Yes the whole thing will clank and hum and light up and issue a string of
on colored ticker-tape.
Or maybe the customers will wear ear-phones and turn small knobs so the
experience will be more audile-tactile than old fashioned visual.
In any case they will only get one line at a time,
This being the most important feature of my design which is based on the
principle that,
In poetry, “one perception must immediately and directly lead to a further
And therefore the audience will be compelled to feed in coin after coin.
Now I admit that the prototype model that you see on display is something
of a
compromise, as it has a live poet concealed inside.
But I assure you that this crudity will eventually be eliminated
Because each machine, I mean each poem, is to be fully computerized
And so able to stand on its own feet.
—Lionel Kearns, “Kinetic Poem” (1968)

On Fri, May 5, 2017 at 1:22 PM, Margaret J Rhee <mrhee at uoregon.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> "There's nothing sentimental about a machine, and: A poem is a small
> (or large) machine made out of words. When I say there's nothing
> sentimental about a poem, I mean that there can be no part that is
> redundant. Prose may carry a load of ill-defined matter like a ship.
> But poetry is a machine which drives it, pruned to a perfect economy.
> As in all machines, its movement is intrinsic, undulant, a physical
> more than a literary character."
> I'd like to start a thread about this quote by WCW, that Mike raised here.
> A friend the Mexican poet Hugo Martinez, remarked we should replace machine
> with machete.
> "There must be something hardwired into its machinery--a heartbeat, a
> pulse--that keeps it breathing." -- Ed Hirsch
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

Dr. Christopher T. Funkhouser
Program Director, Communication and Media
Department of Humanities
New Jersey Institute of Technology
University Heights
Newark, NJ 07102
funkhous at njit.edu
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