In this fascinating post, Jannat Ahmed, an MA student in English Literature at Cardiff University, asks us to think about a new kind of poetry…
In our digital age, are tweets a new form of poetry? This is a question I have asked myself after seeing how people engage with specific types of posts on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. While tweets themselves have their own restrictions (their 140 characters, interestingly, can remind us of the restrictive 14 lines in a sonnet, for example), it is not the straightforward 140 character restriction of a tweet that I correspond with an idea of poetry, but another kind of post prevalent on social platforms that offers poetic engagement: Having gathered force for several years as MSN Messenger statuses, the phenomena of inspirational quotes and narrative posts has found its way onto all kinds of social media channels.
From stories about real people on the “Humans of New York” page on Facebook to @PoemsPorn on Twitter, today the poetry and stories consumed by the world are comprised of short quotations and screenshots that evidently speak to, and resonate with, people. Comparing the personal impact and function of modern day quotation/narrative posts with the social importance and function of poetry from poets like Pope, Montagu and Shelley, I ask whether it is possible to start thinking seriously about these new genres of writing (or rewriting?) produced through the new medium of the digital.
Registration is now open for our Word, Image, Digital, Symposium on November 1st. You can register here: https://word-image-digital.eventbrite.co.uk
And click on the following link to download the programme for the day:word-image-digital-1
In her book, Computers as Theatre, Brenda Laurel attempts, though a ‘poetics of human-computer activity’, to provide designers of websites (and other interactive media), with ‘a conceptual framework and a vocabulary that are strongly focused on human experience.’ According to Laurel:
Buried within us in our deepest playful instincts, and surrounding us in the cultural conventions of theatre, film and narrative are the most profound and intimate sources of knowledge about interactive representations. A central task is to bring those resources to the fore and to begin to use them in the design of interactive systems.
In her focus on human experience in relation to digital design, Laurel echoes Jaron Lanier when he writes about the importance of the human-centred approach to computer science. Laurel’s central thesis is that computers and interactive design are, fundamentally, theatrical, performative and the latest instance of a medium where audiences can engage meaningfully with representations. Just as, for example, the theatre of Shakespeare (which allowed far more interaction between actors and audience members in the Early Modern period than it does today), provides us with characters and a space (a playhouse) for thinking through complex ideas, so computers, in the twenty-first century, are providing us with that space for thought.