Technologies of Poetry
In this craft seminar, we will explore how various technologies have housed and shaped the poem, that strange and adaptable animal. We will read collections and poems by artists who have incorporated an awareness of these technologies—from the alphabet to the Internet—into their work and consider how that awareness enables them to harness energy and meaning. Along the way, we’ll grapple with some questions. What does “publication” mean? How do the readers manuscripts create differ from those imagined by printed books? Will the digital age return poetry to the mouth? Which technologies are you using in your own work, and why? How do poems decay? Additional reading will help us contextualize our understanding within historical, cultural, philosophical, and scientific frameworks. Our texts will include: Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary, Inger Christenson’s Alphabet, Christian Hawkey’s Ventrakl, Aram Saroyan’s Complete Minimal Poems, Oni Buchanan’s Spring, Herbert Mason’s Gilgamesh: a Verse Narrative, and Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho; selections from Stanislas Dehaene’s Reading in the Brain, Amalia E. Gnanadesikan’s The Writing Revolution, Marshall Mcluhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy, Marjorie Perloff’s Unoriginal Genius, and Plato’s Phaedrus; poems by Emily Dickinson, Phyllis Wheatley, John Donne, Jack Spicer, W. B. Yeats, Guillaume Apollinaire, Gertrude Stein, John Cage, and others; and videos or images from sites such as Continental Review, jubilat, The Volta and Internet Poetry. Our goal will be to make all technologies feel noticeable and available as a means of transmission. You will experiment with some forms of transmission yourself, and will be periodically asked to respond (alphabetically, in print, on screen, etc.) to ideas that we encounter in the course.