Chapter 4: Alternative Arrangements for Digital Poetry

Chapter four is a discussion of networked writing initiatives, early e-publications of poetry, works created and/or presented in physical space, and audio poems. He states that these are somewhat "fringe" aspects of digital poetry's history, but that they are important to include because they show different ways to use the circumstances of technology for poetic work.

Funkhouser states that in these diverse incarnations of digital poems, “the expressive issues do not consider whether the computer can write poetry, or graphically enhance it, but how various types of machinery have been used to accentuate or modify poetic process and range” (219). It is in this chapter that the poets discussed make the material circumstances of digital poetry most acutely visible, and perhaps engage the intellectual consequences most robustly. Jeffrey Shaw's 1988-90 installation Legible City is a good example of this. Shaw made a “computer-graphic-video” piece in which the viewer “travels” through a city built of three-dimensional letters that form words and sentences along the sides of streets and the architecture of buildings.

Funkhouser admits that he has marginalized these “alternative arrangements” but claims that it is because they are relatively new, and not because they have little to contribute to digital poetry. I am not convinced by his explanation, but I admit that these forms of digital poetry represent a level of interaction and collaboration that is much more robust than the works discussed in previous chapters. They deserve more space—their own book, perhaps.