A New Take on Poetry: “Strings”

Entering into this class, my experience with e-literature was nonexistent. I have a Kindle merely for convenience, but I have never divulged into the online lit community that has formed. Playing the Cave Adventure I was not convinced that e-literature was a meaningful contribution to the cannon and English in general. However, when looking through the two elit collections online, I was amazed at the doors that open up to creativeness and possibility for the technology-focused future.

Poetry, traditionally the written word to convey a literal or abstract meaning, has forever been a large part of the English language. Incorporating e-literature into this important section of English opens up so many new ways to abstractly communicate the meaning that written poetry always relied on words. In “Strings” Dan Waber capitalizes on this unique opportunity by manipulating single black “strings” to depict different emotions and basically trailing backwards through a relationship.

Beginning with “argument” the string moves from left to right with the words “yes” and “no.” The cursive words sway back and forth, forming as the near their respective side (see below). Basically the string is portraying a classic argument, swinging from one side to another becoming less extreme as time continues until it ends with a straight wordless line, symbolizing the end of the argument.

(Stevens)

“Argument two” goes a different route, showing one person’s internal argument and how his opinion changes. It starts by entertaining numerous possibilities, turns into a firm “no”, then “maybe” pushes “no” off the screen. “Maybe” then disappears as “yes” becomes the center focal point.

It is extremely difficult to explain the interaction of words that “strings” depicts. There are additional string manipulations including “flirt,” “haha” and “you and me.” The chronology seems to be presented backwards, starting with arguing working back to initial flirting. All of the scenarios are in a perpetual loop, representing the commonality of each situation, and, regardless of a relationship, steps that all couple continuously face. The unique movement in each separate category symbolizes something different, yet imperative to the particular situation. For example “argument” and “haha” have the same back and forth conversation flow while argument two is more of a train of thought sporadic movement.

As the author states in his last string movement, “words are like strings that I pull out of my mouth,” this new form of poetry has potential to further electronic poetry. Portraying emotion and basically explaining a situation with a few words and unlimited possibility of movement has the potential to be the next fad in electronic poetry that can keep various audiences entertained.

This poem changed my opinion of e-literature from a cute but unnecessary means for literature into an awing and unique opportunity to portray traditional ideas in a way that can interest many different audiences. Interpretation for this poem series is infinite, adding factors (such as movement) that were never before analyzed.

 

If you want to check out “Strings” here is the link: http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/waber__strings/index.html

Steven, Allan. “Strings: An Ever Evolving Meaning. “Literature in the Wired World. N.p., 10 Novemember 2011. 0. Web. 26 Jan 2012. .

  1 comment for “A New Take on Poetry: “Strings”

  1. January 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I have a Kindle merely for convenience, but I have never divulged into the online lit community that has formed. Playing the Cave Adventure I was not convinced that e-literature was a meaningful contribution to the cannon and English in general.

    What’s the connection between your Kindle and the online community? When you state things this way, it makes me worry that you’re still thinking of Elit as literature that has been digitized, which isn’t the case.

    (And also, you’re thinking “canon” not “cannon”.)

    Anyway, what I mean is what you’re getting at when you write

    It is extremely difficult to explain the interaction of words that “strings” depicts.

    That uniquely interactive aspect means we’re talking about something different, and we may need new terms to assess it. It may not be useful, for example, to compare Adventure to Pride and Prejudice in terms of how they depict character. Instead, maybe we need to look at the specific properties that make these things uniquely digital. Pride and Prejudice doesn’t have a very well-developed parser vocabulary, after all. And it also doesn’t drop many hints about where to read next.

    (I don’t know why Pride and Prejudice comes to mind as the example to compare it to, but you know what I mean. Books work differently.)

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