Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1: A Retrospect
Upon completing my reading of the poetry in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1 (tagged as ELC1 in this blog), some numbers and reflection on the works within is in order.
The ELC1 contains 60 works of e-literature, 38 of which are classifiable as poetry. Some of these works are certainly on the margins of what one might consider poetry, but I chose to include rather than exclude when in doubt. The authoring software distribution for these works is as follows:
The textual behaviors exhibited by the works in the collections are distributed as follows:
Of the 38 works, the most used behavior was scheduling (25), indicating an interest in exploring the possibilities of writing in a time-based medium. This was followed closely by responsiveness (24), which suggests that the other fascination lay in including the readers in the performance of the work in ways that the work could respond to. Static and kinetic texts were equally represented with 20 poems apiece, which might mean that they hold an equal interest for poets. The relatively low number of mutable poems (15) may be linked to the prevalence of Flash as authoring software, but not the 17 aural works, which is easy to handle with that program. Still almost half of the works (45%) incorporated some sort of sound, which points at some interest.
These numbers are from a relatively small sample, and one chosen by an editorial team that perhaps sought to represent a variety of practices in e-literature , so we cannot attribute too much importance. But they do point towards a trend in the development of e-literature, one that may change or become more defined over time.
This Collection was very well reviewed and received by the academic community, and with good reason, since the editorial board is composed of recognized poets and scholars in the field: Katherine Hayles, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, and Stephanie Strickland. For a thorough review, read “Letters that Matter” by John Zuern.
I started this blog with this collection because I knew it was full of quality work, and I’m grateful to the poets that crafted these experiences and to the editors who chose them and curated them so well. Now onward to the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2!