Sunday, May 22, 2011

E-Poetry 2011 Festival of Techno Art

Having just settled down from the E-Poetry Festival which came to Buffalo, New York (where I live) I believe that I am prepared to offer some thoughts on the experience.

For those of you who have not yet jumped on the bandwagon, e-poetry and digital poetics (which are not really distinct from one another as far as I can tell) is an emerging category of artistic expression that is pushing the limits of what constitutes poetry. Indeed, it has inspired much debate as to whether or not digital poetics constitutes a literary art form.

Regardless of any prior opinion that exists on this topic, it is largely irrelevant. Poets have always fancied themselves the liberators of language and as writer who is inspired by the Beats among (many) others, it has always struck me that through these artists, that it was poetry itself that was trying to free itself from language. With the ironically named language poets you really do see a tendency to think about pre-lingual utterances that happen prior to what a linguist would properly constitute as language. Grunts, moans, ooohs, and ahhhs are every bit as prevalent in spoken langpo performances as syntactically perfect utterances.

Syntax itself becomes a prison from which language desperately tries to escape as luminaries such as Loss Glazier have made reference to, but it is not language that needs to be freed, it is poetry, which is as pervasive a force of nature as consumption and excretion. A failure to see the poetry in everyday life has left us alienated from not just language and each other, but life itself, the experience of being alive. We can blame this on language all we like but it is we who choose, who act, who remain bound and enslaved to notions which fix our images of the world into static forms. And language, while part of the problem, is also a solution.

If I recall correctly, it was Ian Hatcher who stated that to name a thing is the highest form of love, but such a sentiment fails to take into a account that there are at least seven different names for the substance referred to by the word "shit." For me, on the other hyperbolic end of this notion is that to name a thing is to kill it. Something I cannot fully believe but if given an opportunity to sentimentalize language would utter this instead. The reason for this is that to name a thing familiarizes it in such a was as to fix its image and preload it with all the experiences that are associated with it, which is really the point, I do not relate nearly as well to language as the artist who can make that claim.

I am very much a "devil's tools" kind of tactician, so to become a poet was a natural extension of my secret war.

But enough about that. Over the next few days I will blog about digital poetics, the artists who are working in the field, the sorts of ideas that are being thrown around, and the excitement that is being generated around it.

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