Cybertext Poetry: Effects of Digital Media on the Creation of Poetic Literature

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Digital technologies have begun to affect the activity of creating poetry. This development does not threaten to supplant poetry in its written, oral, and other senses. Rather, it holds the potential to accentuate and extend its capabilities. My study discusses historical and mechanical issues related to literature and digital media, exposing how approaches to the creation of poetic texts are evolving as writing (in part) becomes machine-modulated. Aiming to chronicle the opening period of cybertext, these essays intend to expand the discourse and illustrate aesthetic properties of digital text. Theodor Holm Nelson invented the concept of hypertext in the 1960s. Hypertext, to Nelson, meant branching texts and "non-sequential writing." It is a specialized mode of multi-layered reading and writing enabling the integration of digital texts. My study advances hypertext by adopting the term cybertext to include other digital forms and possibilities. It continues the work of developing a vocabulary bridging poetry and cybertext, discussing contemporary theory and practice in this discipline. Cybertext poetry crafts language to integrate lyrical, alphabetic, and visual representations in a task of both building and unearthing what is inside a text. Cooperative use of computers, networks, and software are understood to extend the purposes, concerns, and visibility of poetry through electronic gateways, yet the overall status of the form is rudimentary. Conceptualizations of computerized texts and digital literary output to-date, especially in the area of poetry, are my primary focus here; this is a broad introduction to the making(s) of these texts. Multiple cybertext poems are introduced in order to derive a broadly informed poetics for this mechanically interconnected form. Removed from certain particulars, such as which software programs are "best" (or even which individual works are most successful), this study analyzes and evaluates cybertext with the objective of adding a lasting sense of what areas are worth a poet's pursuit amidst the new technologies.

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Alvaro Seica