My friend Charley is teaching contemporary British poetry this semester and sent me this link to a new mediated version of Paul Muldoon’s poem “A Collegelands Catechism”. What you get, if you get past the forced Flash intro from the Princeton courseware (and thank you, Princeton, for making this publically accessible, we do appreciate it), is Paul Muldoon reading his poem with a Flash animation showing the words of the poem. Afterwards, you get to see the text of the whole of the poem, with extra information and glosses. There’s something about seeing this that makes me want to think something I can’t quite get at. I mean, look at Thom Swiss and Skye Giordano’s Genius (sorry, won’t work with my Mac anymore, I think it’s the browser, but it works fine on most PCs I’ve tried). The author’s voice reads a poem, a Flash animation shows the words and there’s music and images and these elements all speak to each other, they mean more than their individual parts. So is the Princeton version of the Paul Muldoon poem a (fairly simple, but perhaps sufficient) adaptation of a traditional poem into a new media genre that’s becoming conventional? Conventional enough that Princeton Courseware adopts it? Does the Muldoon poem become electronic writing when animated? I’m sure there’s some point to be made here but I can’t quite make it.

2 thoughts on “new-mediated

  1. Francois Lachance


    Your interesting ramble and description put me in mind of the poems collected by Jerome Rothenberg in _Technicians of the Sacred_. I am especially struck by how the anthropological data supports the new media exploration of the interaction between the meaningful and the not-so meaninful and how the verbal doesn’t always occupy the position as the generator of meaning. Many of the poems in _Technicians of the Sacred_ and the later volume _Shaking the Pumpkin_ could be conceived as scripts for performances.

    And I wonder about the notions of “script” and “performance” and how they may be applied to blogging. Would the work of Torill Mortensen be of assistance in approaching the question of performance and its traces in the multimodal productions? For example, what does a print screen command do to one’s expereince of the flow or recollection of the production?

  2. Jill

    You have some wonderful questions, Francois. I don’t quite know the answers, but you always get me thinking, anyway!

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