Beat by Beat

Separation by Annie Abrahams

Annie Abrahams, author of “Separation”, created an electronic poem about understanding and the many difference of the human experience. Abrahams writes based on her own personal experience after recovering after a hospital visit in 2010. The poem exudes this theme , as well as immerses the reader into the feeling of the slow process of healing and recovering.

“Separation”  is an interactive poem that tries to transform the reader into the narrator. The platform of this poem is something I have not seen before in any of the other electronic literature we have viewed all semester. You begin with a blank screen and you must click to bring up the first word. You most click for every proceeding word as well for the entirety of the poem. This with the combination of the content of the poem gives the pace a slow and deliberate. The pace reminds the reader of someone who is in severe pain try to talk. It is quite effective complemented with the text of the piece.


As you maneuver through the poem the computer prompts you to participate in several activities.  The narrator talks about her pain, she wants you to experience her pain or how she is feeling. You are asked to open your mouth like you are screaming in pain. Hunch and un-hunch your shoulders repeatedly or hunch over in a chair. Actions that you normally see when someone is in pain or distressed. Slowly as you continue through the poem the words become more aggressive and the narrator wants you become her. The prompts to act the way she does become more frequent and if she senses that you are breaking away from her, detected by how you click to continue the poem, screens will tell you that you have the wrong attitude for the poem or that you are too tense. Thus making you slow down again and become a part of her story and herself.


The narrator of the poem is unable to separate herself from the pain. Her prompts make it so you become part of her pain and understand how she is feeling. The combination of the pace, prompts and screens that control your actions help you maintain the pace and feelings within the poem. Thus you, yourself are unable to separate from the narrator or her feelings, exhibited through the tone of the poem. The literary devices and techniques used to accomplish this is very effective. The poem is so effective in doing this, you begin to feel your heart beat to the slow, deliberate, pained pace.



Despite the subject matter being about someone’s pain, this piece was highly enjoyable. The techniques used both electronically and literally complement well to uplift the piece. “Separation” works well as an electronic literature piece because the poem has interactive elements that would not be as effective or even available  in a printed medium. These elements also gave the poem an element like the narrator was actually watching you go through her story. Beat by beat of your heart you become apart of her world and story, like her unable to separate yourself.  

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