Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hypertext poetry

     We computer-screen readers all know hypertext; when we read along in Wikipedia or some other online document and come across an underlined term whose font color is light blue -- at such a point we may decide to keep on reading as if we had not noticed the light blue "hyperlink," or we may locate our cursor on that text, click our mouse, and link to a new screen of visual information.
     My first encounter with hypertext poetry was the work of Stephanie Strickland -- in her 1999 love poem, "The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot," available at this link.  If you, however, are someone who is not yet comfortably familiar with hypertext poetry, I invite you to gain some experience with hyperlinked reading via a prose essay -- reading it first as a traditional essay and then exploring ways that hypertext can vary the experience of reading.

      Available in The Measured Word: On Poetry and Science (University of Georgia Press, 2001), a collection edited by Kurt Brown, Strickland's essay, "Seven-League Boots: Poetry, Science, and Hypertext" (first published in Electronic Book Review (Summer, 1998)) may be found here. At the EBR link, this 5-page essay of 17 numbered paragraphs may be read as if printed on five consecutive pages AND, alternatively, it also may be read by traveling along the paths of a linked hypertext network -- moving through the document not from top to bottom but via hyperlinks from one section of text to another.

     The print version of Strickland's electronic love poem won the 1999 Boston Review prize and may be read here -- perhaps after reading this introduction by Heather McHugh.   Actually, however, three alternative readings of "The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot" are available; the choices appear by clicking on how?.  Most pages of the poem contain two hyperlinks which are not underlined but often are associated with an image. Although I had thought I might offer here a sample of a few quoted lines from the ballad, it seems that they lose nearly everything when taken out of context. Go here to the full version and have a good read!

     Several prior postings in this blog have offered work by Stephanie Strickland. For example, this posting for July 6, 2010.  Or click here to open a Search Box to find a list of all Strickland postings.  Also, you may enjoy a visit to Strickland's website to find lots lots more.  

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