1.17.2004

Project Proposal

Project Description

I am proposing to complete the remaining (book length) sections of my work of poetry, Confiteor, a one thousand page project, and to teach a graduate seminar based on the sources, ideas, processes, and issues raised by its writing. This seminar would be a “heavy” practicum, a seminar resulting in student writing work combining creative and critical modes, rather than a creative writing workshop focused on student work or response alone. The topics of the work and seminar reverberate with the "institution-specific info] albeit obliquely. The topics also engage the specialties of scholars in the [institution] English / Literature, English / Creative Writing, Cultural Studies, Digital Arts, and Information Sciences departments.

With this application, I have enclosed the first three sections of Confiteor, a trilogy of poems entitled DaDaDa. It was published by Salt Publishing in 2003 and is distributed in the UK, North America, and Australia by them. I have also included the current version of the middle three sections of Confiteor, entitled OOD: Object-Oriented Design, which is currently under consideration. Parts of this volume have been published as chapbooks. I have begun publishing pieces from the final three-section volume, tentatively entitled All the Angels and Saints, in literary magazines, but I do not have the rough draft of the entire work I would expect to have by the time of the fellowship, nor do I have an outline of the final volume of Confiteor, entitled Addendum.

The published pieces from the remainder of the project include work written using common machine readers and voice recognition softwares, common desktop avatars, and instructional materials for reading, perception, writing, and business practices. Confiteor as a whole investigates the ideas of transgression, confession, and prayer through the practice of writing in the media age. The title is from the confessional in the Roman Catholic Church; the title of the section All the Angels and Saints is from the version used in the mass:

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Accordingly, the work moves through historical works culminating in an investigation of confessional modes such as testimonials, advertisements/public relations, and poems and people as “prayers” or “ghosts” in the machinery of contemporary life. Confiteor opens with the first section of DaDaDa, “Reading Fundamentals,” poems which are essentially readings of canonical works, including the book length “Palm Anthology,” based on the Greek Anthology and written for personal digital assistant with wireless capability (my Palm Pilot VII). In the final phase of the project, canonical works are displayed as confessions to the community. While the second section, “Heresy” (on its own a finalist for the National Poetry Series) includes a woman’s epic, “In Medias Res,” written for MS PowerPoint to illustrate erasure, and other poems which transform women’s writings from the 13th to 16th centuries into personal, contemporary poems. This becomes, in All the Angels and Saints, an exploration of contemporary “nonliterary” women’s writings. The third section, “Legendary,” is hagiography for people (mostly women) in the applied arts and aesthetic crafts (decorators, designers).

OOD: Object-Oriented Design opens with “Edifice,” a series of poems which find sources in both literary writing (including the Roman Elegies) and aesthetic crafts and practices in order to create “an elaborate conceptual structure” around or covering the female body / open text / aporia. This becomes verse defining an “I” in the remainder of the project. OOD continues with “Acquisition,” poems focusing on forms of arts (ex., dance) and art objects. The poems begin “disintegrating” into accidents of format to reveal the binaries that underlie code and, perhaps, cultural constructs. “Objective,” the section which follows, expands upon the more incidental use of Boolean and other Modern Algebras in earlier sections by showing their relationships, as systems, to conceptualizations of cosmology and origin. Thus, the first trilogy is about reading and identity. The second is about text and origin. The third, part of the project I propose, is about writing and community. Addendum is prayer.

Confiteor, when complete, will be the first major long work of poetry written by a member of my cohort, poets under 40. As such, it is more “disposable,” mediated and about media, derived, and wide ranging than other major long works of poetry, and perhaps with something in common with works in other genres by younger writers -- novels and plays written by Thalia Field, Shelley Jackson, and Suzan-Lori Parks, and even post-Ackerian “chick lit” in this Bridget Jones era. Because I am an executive-level female technologist and a poet, my work is both similar to and utterly different than many other digital arts projects. My long poems (I am not proposing a project related to by short poems or essay reviews) don’t participate in the “poetry wars,” by being totally formal or totally experimental, in the way that many longer poetry works by older poets do.

As a major long work of poetry written by a contemporary woman, Confiteor will be compared and contrasted to works like those by Anne Carson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and Alice Notley, as well as shorter long works by Gertrude Schnackenberg and Stephanie Strickland. In fact, it is an investigation of these works, together with works by Pattie McCarthy and Cole Swensen with some content which overlaps mine, that give the seminar I propose its “meat.”




Draft Preface for some poems to be published in a Feminist Journal

Here's a draft preface, which doubtless needs editing:

"In Medias Res" is a poem which finds its sources in Marguerite Porete's writings, Boolean algebra of the kind used to design computer chips, and other embedding computer artifact "objects." The poem relates to the idea of a woman's epic in the media age. I finished writing it in 2000, just before I learned of Anne Carson's DECREATION, an opera based on Porete's writings. Marjorie Leusebrink, MD Coverley, curated an online project using the Porete writings in 2001.

I wrote "In Medias Res" using and for an MS PowerPoint slide show. Other artists and literary critics who have written using and about MS PowerPoint include David Byrne, in his recent book, _Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information_ and Edward R. Tufte, _The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint_. The poem lives in three formats: paper, transparencies made from PowerPoint slides without slide transitions but with concrete poetry mimicking the transition effects, and an animated PowerPoint slide show with transitions. It is deliberately a very lo tech slide show, since I believe that many web artists rapidly embrace expensive, new, commercial technologies without querying their commercialism, and without exploiting the common software tools people use every day. The transitions "fade to white" or appear to erase, since I wanted to emphasize the idea of erasure regarding the woman's epic in general and Marguerite Porete's writings and person in particular.

The transitions are "written." Many transitions between displays or screens, in Macromedia Flash-animated poetry (which offers similar transitions to MS PowerPoint) in particular, use a single transition, or use a randomized, automatic selection. Of the many fabulous animated poems which do not include written transitions, my favorite is easily Stephanie Strickland's online version of _V: Vniverse_. Brian Kim Stephans' animation of part of Christian Bok's _Eunoia_ is almost all transition. I chose particular slide transitions based on the content of each section, then rewrote the section to employ the transition in the content, the same type of iterative process of negotiating form and content that software development and poetry writing share. Each version -- paper, slides without transitions, and slide show, uses some transitions available in that medium which are not available in the others (Flash transitions can be coded, but I was not using Flash -- some of the transitions I used in the paper version could have been coded in Flash).

In the paper version, and in the version without transitions, but with concrete poetry mimicking the transitions, it was necessary for me to repeat the text to show it disappearing! I still don't know precisely what this says about the nature of repetition in poetry. I suspect it says something about an appeal to memory. Like repetition in plays (such as Porete wrote), screenplays, and advertising, as well as in commonly-held notions of meter and rhyme in poetry, repetition in poetry goads the memory of the audience. It also says something more about reader response or acceptance -- something about distribution and about reproduction -- because Porete was so good at distributing her writings (one of the reasons she was considered a heretic was her teaching and travel), they could not be erased.

Stephanie Strickland, V: Vniverse
http://vniverse.com/

Brian Kim Stephans, animation of Christian Bok's Eunoia, Chapter e
http://www.ubu.com/contemp/bok/eunoia_final.html
MD Coverley, editor, The Mirror of Annihilated Simple Souls http://currents.cwrl.utexas.edu/archives/fall01/fall01/luesebrink/wone.htm

David Byrne, _Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information_ Steidl and Pace/MacGill Gallery, 2003

Edward R. Tufte, _The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint_
Graphics Press, 2003
Pitch for a Conference in Scotland

I am primarily a poet, but am also an independent scholar. However, the strongest connection to the conference theme, "Poetry & Sexuality," is through my creative work, not my scholarship. In particular, the long poem "Palm Anthology" in my book _DaDaDa_ (Salt Publishing, 2003) "ties together" erotic fragments from the Greek Anthology using semes derived from the personal digital assistant with wireless (Tesla coil) capability (i.e., my Palm VII) while maintaining their "wireless" communicability.

I would love to have the opportunity to deliver a talk about this poem, as well as read quite small portions of it (understanding the 20 minute time limit) which illustrate the relationship between the body, fragment, other poetry, technology, and media, that I attempt to establish. It is one of the few poems written for Palm OS, but also it is not currently available to scholars outside the print version in my book.

Some section titles are commands derived from D/s computer chat games, so that they bring forward ways in which literature and technology is and isn't subservient to human "domination." Other sections are titled with palm markup (a sort of "html lite") tags. Since my palm has wireless connectivity, i.e., it uses a tesla coil, there are many references to tesla coil / violent wand -- thus to another set of technologically-mediated sexual practices. In the poems, the bodies are arranged into completed circuits or are short-circuited.
Pitch for a Conference on Sound

Much of the North American current practice of the idea of "voice" in poetry is derived from the critical writings of TS Eliot. In certain contemporary poetry writing circles, however, not only has the usefulness of the narrative "I" and the unitary "voice" in poetry been called to question, but also the use of sound and sound effects in poetry: all three aspects of aural cultural constructs are frequently considered to lead away from "truth," "meaning," or even "sense." New media writing which can be considered poetry works against these notions.

In a talk and demonstration, including talking about my own work and demonstrating sound in my poetry, avatar voicings from "other cultures" in my poetry, and a brief survey of other new media writing /poetry practice, including that of Alan Sondheim, Miekal And, and Maria Damon, I will explore how new media poetry (as opposed to new media writing, which often includes a background "soundtrack" or "clicking" effects which mimic keyboard sounds rather than voicings or poetic sound and sound effects) integrates sound, dialog, and performance using avatars, frequently "foreign" or "other" voicings, and online chat.
Yeah, Dr. Mongo is constantly tinkering with his older
poems. I think that the weblog has facilitated this. I've
heard recordings of the Doctor reciting Penitentary many
years ago. It is different now. He is constantly reworking.

Catherine wrote:
> thanks for the heads up; I obviously don't check
> friendster (or update my blog @
> http://cadaly.blogspot.com) very often...
>
> interesting entry in the dabate I've had with
> present and former students who slam
> about "signature poems", memorizing "early"
> works, and how that acts on one's writing as a
> whole --
>
>
>
> Preterosso wrote:
> > I host a number of weblogs on my webserver.
> You might
> > be interested in this one. It is the poetry of
> a friend of
> > mine. A older black poet, Dr. Mongo Tari-
> bubu. It can be
> > found at:
> >
> > http://drmongo.kicks-ass.org/
> >
> > I think that he really doesn't like the domain
> name. But the
> > dynamic dns organization that I use mostly has
> some really
> > bad domain options. He is great to hear in
> person. The
> > first time I heard him, I had my mobile caffe,
> Caffe Vivaldi,
> > at an underground club. He recited his
> signature poem,
> > Penitentiary, to me one on one. It was awesome.
> >
> > ¿michael?