Wednesday, October 17, 2007


MetaInternetaHyperPoeta! Kind of has a ring to it, doesn't it? Well, this is the name I've come up with for what a couple of guys on MySpace have done. So, let me start things off with the link:

Now, if you click on that link, that may be the last I see of you, because it will take you to a poem that these two fellows wrote, and many of the words in the poem are linked to other pages with other poems. So, you can either go ahead and read/explore it, and meet me back here later, or not at all, or if you like, you can read the comment I left for them on that poem's blog page (third page of the comments I believe), which I've pasted in below (slightly edited).

Wow! Fabulous! What an immense undertaking, David and Si, and apparently very much the labor of love. You have really used the medium well here. The idea of hypertext, and hypertextual poetry (or should we say hyperpoetry) has been around for almost two decades, predating the web itself (which relies on hypertext markup language aka html), but there is surprising little experimentation with the form here among the MySpace poets, at least the ones I've encountered. And maybe rightly so, as just because a technology makes it so you can do something doesn't mean that you ought to do it.

But this isn't a hypertext in the original sense, that is, a single-authored work with links that allow you to move in nonlinear fashion among different pages. This is web hyperpoetry, where the links take you to other pages that already exist, and that were created by others. So, at once you have a poem that stands as its own work, and as others have indicated, it is a fine write in and of itself. The fact that it's co-authored makes it a little bit atypical, especially for a poem, but collaborative writing is far from unknown in print culture.

But it seems clear to me that you did not write this poem first, then decide to look for appropriate links, but rather that you had the idea to create this new form, and that the writing of this poem was shaped and influenced, at least in part, by the other poems that you were thinking of including. That imposes certain constraints, of course, which can often lead to a better work than just going free form, but it also means that in some way you have retrieved aspects of traditional oral poetry (e.g., Iliad,
Odyssey, Beowulf, etc.), in which pre-existing elements are woven together to create a new composition.

In other words, while this is not epic in scope or theme, but rather a more individualistic, inner-directed, self-conscious meditation on poetry of the sort that was born out of print culture. It is epic in the sense that it goes beyond the individual to represent an entire community and a tradition of sorts (albeit a very young one). It is epic in weaving (and the weave metaphor is at the heart of epos, that's what rhapsode is all about) a grand tapestry that stands as a great celebration of poets and poetry. And of community. More than anything else, you have made a beautiful and loving statement about a community of poets, a tribe!

All media are best understood as environments that we live in, not just things that we use (or ignore), but this poem truly brings that to the fore as what you create is a poetic environment that the reader can move through, and explore that community of poets. This is truly representative of a new, electronic form, that is outer-directed and other-directed, and yes, environmental. I think that, more than a good write, this stands as a significant achievement of lasting value.

On a personal note, I would add that I feel privileged to have been able to join that community, and honored to be included in this work. Thank you, guys.

And I hope I've made myself sufficiently clear: I like it, I really, really like it.

So, there you have it. All that I have to add is that I have now come up with the perfect name for this new form:
MetaInternetaHyperPoeta! Come on now, say it with me: MetaInternetaHyperPoeta. Now, try saying that ten times fast! Or just go back and enjoy all that poetry.

1 comment:

Shy said...

Muuuaawaaaah! :) You are the best wordsmith I know.