Poetry goes Techno (Draft)
Let's forget about the Web for a moment to consider what else technology
has done for poetry.
Like it or not, technology has not only made poets' lives easier (printing
helped them read (and be read) more, pens and paper helped them write more)
but it has also changed
the nature of poetry: typewriters encouraged free-verse, and hypertext
wouldn't be possible without computers.
Some more recent benefits that spring to mind are
- rhyming dictionaries
- CD/DVD recordings
- computer-generated haiku
- combining animated images and words
Poetry and multimedia
- Music - Poets
have been singing their poems for centuries. They've also spoken their
poetry over music or percussion - Betjamen did it to strings.
Joy Harpo's renditions tend to use jazz as a backdrop.
- Stills -
I'm growing to like the idea of mixing still images with text (following in
the steps of Blake) but I've never done it. See my notes on
- Animation -
Words can be animated (an update of "concrete poetry"), or words can be
combined with simple graphics - for example, an abstract image
(a digital fountain of colours for example) can be synchronised to a voice.
Flash, Java, etc can be used. See
- Movies -
Pop videos have become a legimate art form, but their words aren't always
their strength. Tony Harrison's V appeared some years ago on the UK TV's
channel 4. In the US MTV's Unplugged and in particular the "United Stated of Poetry" venture (Walcott, Cohen, Rita Dove, etc) were important.
One problem is how to balance words and images - if the images are dazzling
who's going to bother with the words? On the other hand, one doesn't want
the images to slavishly follow the words, showing a picture of a tree whenever
the word "tree" appears. I suspect a successful movie poem needs to be
watched a few times, so the WWW or CD/DVDs are perhaps their most appropriate
For examples, go to
(you'll need Flash, QuickTime, etc). Resources include
My attempts (online - you'll need a QuickTime player) begin as poems.
I then produce some movie clips to match the imagery. Sometimes the poem
appears as subtitles. They need work!
Alternatively one can use pre-existing movie clips. The original soundtrack
can be muted during the voice-over, speeded up or replaced by music.
Updated November 2005