top of page

The intersection of poetry and technology

Digital poems lie at the intersection of poetry and technology. As one might expect, the term "digital poetry" encompasses a wide range of different poetic forms. At what point does an interactive poem cease being a poem and become instead a video game? Can a video game ever be considered a poem? Where is the line between an animated poem and a short film? These are the types of questions we tackle here. 

Another question I find intriguing is whether certain media are more appropriate for the generation of digital poems than others. For instance, a digital poem created in a defunct programming language may be impossible to view and/or interact with using modern systems. Does this make that particular poem any more or less meaningful? Does it limit the potential impact of such a poem? 


How does one create a digital poem? Some might say that you should start with a vision for what you want the poem to look like, and choose technology that can make that vision a reality. And that's certainly a fine way to do things. But part of the beauty of digital poetry is that the technology can inform the poetry as much as the poetry can inform the technology. If you've just learned a new programming trick and it inspires you to write a poem utilizing that new skill, that too is a vaid way to generate poems. 

That said, there are some platforms that are especially useful for creating digital poems. My personal favorite is HMTL / Javascript, because poems created as html files can be viewed using pretty much any internet browser and can be easily inserted into websites like htis one. 

Here I've included four examples of HTML / Javascript poems I created, to give you some inspiration. 

The first one, "the kindness," features the replacement of some specific words with other words at random intervals. Note that the poem at the given link is not a video; the words are being dynamically replaced. Please note that this poem deals with themes of depression and suicide, so feel free to avoid it if those topics are triggering for you.

The second poem, "a letter," is an example of an interactive digital poem. In this case, the poem is a "choose-your-own-adventure" of sorts, where the reader chooses the final line of each stanza and in so doing directs the rest of the poem. 

The third example, "bubbles in glass," is another form of interactive poem. Here, the user can mouse over different portions of an image to see different short poems. 

This final poem is an example of a code poem. A code poem is a poem written completely in a coding language. Typically, these poems are actually compilable, though the output is often nonsense. 



One great collection of electronic literature can be found here

bottom of page