Sunday, February 6, 2011

Electronic poetry -- Stephanie Strickland

     Computers offer new opportunities for poetry -- permitting new types of poems.  Animated perhaps, or hypertext, or vast manuscripts of which we can see at most a fragment -- the possibilities are many.  Stephanie Strickland is one of the pioneers of electronic literature -- and this post was sparked by my experiences at her presentations at Georgetown University on February 1.  
     We first consider "The Whole," one of Strickland's poems-on-the page and follow that with a look at her electronic work. (Click on the poem-image for a larger view.)
      As "The Whole"  (from True North, University of Notre Dame Press, 1997) illustrates, Stephanie Strickland does not shy from ideas of mathematics (or science or philosophy).  Likewise, she has embraced computing and its algorithms and the language of code.  Sea and Spar Between -- a poem-generator developed in collaboration with Nick Montfort and published in 2010 in Dear Navigator (a forum for innovative writing) -- combines fragments from Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville and has the potential to create 225 trillion different quatrains, each specified by a pair of coordinates between 1 and 14992383.  For example, the ordered pair (3884125, 221589) corresponds to these four lines:

     loop on 
          soundless turn and move --

     loop on
        nailed to the groove

     Here is the link to instructions for reading Sea and Spar Between -- the instructions then link to the poem itself.  (Note:  To read the poem requires an HTML 5 canvas-enabled browser, such as a recent version of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, or Opera.) 
     This blog's posting for 6 July 2010 also features work by Stephanie Strickland. 

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