Innovative Poet-Programmers of the World Unite!

Review of Loss Pequeño Glazier. Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2002.

By George Hartley
Department of English, Ohio University

1. Digimanifesto

The Age of Digital Poetry has arrived. And if Loss Pequeño Glazier is right, "writing will never be the same again, now that its linkages have been made manifest" (Digital Poetics 52). Making manifest: that is the issue at hand. In Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries, Loss Pequeño Glazier writes a historical narrative, an encyclopedia, a how-to manual, and a manifesto for the new age of digital poetry. This is the latest chapter in the story of the human relationship between writing and the machine. The story is a long one, of course, extending at least as far back as the ancient Greek emphasis on poieisis as making. And it is this making that lies at the heart of the story.change me

As with any manifesto, this one sets up what is to be replaced and what (and who) is to do the replacing. And in this sense Glazier's argument is like the Russian nesting doll which opens up only to reveal another little doll inside, itself ready to be opened up, and so on. The larger framing context is the battle between print and digital textualities. Within the frame of digital textuality is the opposition between simple digital transcription of static print text and link-node hypertext. Then there is the battle between narrative hypertext and poetic hypertext, followed by the opposition of poetry which conforms to the narrative paradigm versus poetry which opens up a new one. And this final innovative poetic opening up of textuality depends on its engagement with the medium that brings it into being in the first place. Thus the slogan of Glazier's manifesto: "engage the medium" (161).inscription

Digital poetry, of course, is not the first instance of a poetry which engages its medium. And it is here where another history crosses the history of the battle between print and digital text; that other history is the battle within poetry itself between innovative poetries and what by default are here referred to as non-innovative poetries (47). Here Ezra Pound's own slogan of "Make it new" is repeated. The syntax of this slogan reveals an ambiguity in Glazier's terminology. On the one hand, "Make it new" means "Make it different," with the final term being the variable that is emphasized. But if the emphasis falls on the first term, we have the emphasis on the making (Glazier's key theme), with the latter term remaining as a given, the New, as the already-new, as the innovative tradition (approaching oxymoron).made visible

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Winter 2002 TOC