Concrete (as in I’ve hit a wall of)

Full disclosure: I am done in, tuckered out, at the end of my tether and on a neighbor’s unsecured connection in the middle of Wichita, Kansas, so I’m going to keep this brief in order to minimize my frustration with the poor connection. So…

George Herbert’s “Easter Wings.” The first concrete poem I remember reading. And I wasn’t thrilled with the way that form “is” content. Instead, I was thrilled with the way that the form and the content interact to heighten the meaning of the text, the way in which the lines diminish as the speaker sinks into the realm of poverty and decay, become tighter and pinched and cribbed, then expand and breath push against encloser, constriction, as the speaker moves closer to God.

Consequently, I was disappointed with “Your World of Text” and the concrete poem generator because both seem to have so little to do with craft as opposed to interactivity, experimentation, and technology. However, the reason that I went to them first is because I wanted to create and play instead of read and analyze. Is it hypocritical of me to go to something called “concrete poem generator” and expect an experience rooted in craft? Probably. But maybe this is creeping toward the idea of “hollowed out” that came up in our last class. The playfulness of the form, the ease of interactivity and chance and randomness, without the work of creating a piece that dovetails the form and content.

Taking then, Daniel Howe’s Text Curtain, my first thought in reading the explanation of the piece is to wonder what the text of the fourteen lines are. Right? I mean, half the point of the text curtain is to disrupt the text. Wouldn’t then, the initial meaning of the text be important, if the reader is going to disrupt it. Isn’t disruption more powerful when we have a meaningful experience that is disrupted. But the text is “ever-evolving text (there are 30-factorial or nearly 3^30 potential poems in the work, virtually guaranteeing that none will repeat in a single day).” So how can the disruption of the text have any meaning beyond it’s fun technological, interactive, movement-sensor hoo-ha? How is “text.curtain” ANY different from, say, the Target installation in Washington Square Park at Christmas time that allows people to “move” text and symbols and create music on shadow screens and the ground? Am I just being archaic and reductive?

Cranky, cranky and overtired. Signing off.


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