Poetry and new media

Dear followers: I am intending to deliver a conference paper on poetry and new media. I would love feedback from people writing and/or reading poetry on Twitter, Facebook and blogs like this one of mine, that I can incorporate into the paper.

Here is the paper abstract:

Poetry, hypertext and new and social media: a theoretical and experiential Journey

I am approaching this topic both as an academic analyst of media (and the cultural forms produced by media) as well as a poet published extensively in both print and digital media and currently exploiting the creative possibilities afforded by hypertext and graphical representations (such as visual poetry).

In this research paper I examine the impact of new and Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, blog sites, poetry writing apps for smart phones) on the writing and publication of poetry, paying particular attention to issues such as, the role of technology and the advent of hypertext in extending existing and developing new forms of (in this influenced by the later work of Marshall McLuhan).

As far as the experiential aspect of this research project goes, I detail my own personal movement into new media and the ways in which I have exploited the possibilities afforded by blog sites (WordPress and Tumblr), Twitter and Facebook to develop a practice as a poet that has provided a world-wide readership (almost 3000 followers on Twitter, almost half of which are from the US and 120 followers of my WordPress poetry blog) and which, paradoxically, provides instant feedback as well. The change from local to a distinctly international readership has important implications for the kind of poetry written, as has the kinds of restrictions of length posed by Twitter – which is tailor-made for short, sharp epigrammatic or imagistic pieces as well as Eastern forms such as the tanka, senryu and haiku.

In discussing the way in which the new technologies are changing textual and publishing practices, the paper focusses on the issue of the readership and reception of poetry, contrasting the new digital readerships and conditions and modes of reception with those of traditional print forms (such as poetry collections, anthologies and poems published in poetry magazines and literary journals. Here I ask whether the new media technologies have not perhaps strengthened poststructuralist critiques (such as those of Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan) of the long-established, literary cultural, notions of authorial identity, integrity and control. Further, the paper explores the social dimensions of writing poetry for dissemination through social media and through electronic forms of publication, paying particular attention to the issue of on-line communities (and whether in any sense they can be considered true “communities”), of the “reduction” of poetry to something other than what we commonly accept it to be, and to the role of “creative’ outputs such as poetry and other literary forms in fostering the claims of the internet to provide a true “public sphere”.

Thus the research paper is an attempt to integrate, theoretically, my practice as a poet with that of academic/intellectual, and to point to areas of compatibility – areas where the one mindset and set of practices can learn from the other – and areas where the relationship is distinctly less harmonious than we might be inclined to believe.


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