The image of the clock in Here and There invites the reader to read the texts in order, perhaps starting at 12 o’clock; while at the same time it presents the challenge of breaking the structure and jumping randomly from one number to the other. In doing this, the reader might discover the echo in lines that evoke others or feel the weight of brief pieces that could stand as a single, definitive image. But what looks like a clock is really a chart much larger its scope. The lack of sound in this poem (which contrasts other works by Norman, like “Window“), underlines the vastness of the universe contained in the chart and which is also suggested by the images and the allusions to celestial bodies.
This “fiction for three voices” is sent via e-mail to readers’ inboxes every five minutes until all seven mailings are delivered. This story is told using an epistolary style in which two characters (Josie and Doreen) are writing e-mail messages to a loved one and friend (respectively), and one character (Annie) whose stream-of-consciousness arrives as an e-mail. Annie cannot type or dictate because she is blind, deaf, mute, and mentally handicapped from birth— a “disabled resident” in the “C-block Special Care unit—” so as readers we need to be willing to accept these e-mails from her as a way to access her perspective. Her voice is the most poetic aspect of this work, presenting visually textured messages that contain both ASCii art and interspersed lines of highly metaphoric free verse.
Whether you read the e-mails as they arrive, or simply in order, the interconnected stories, situations, and perspective of each character will enrich the narrative, developing in directions full of irony, reversals of fortune, and changes in attitudes— including your own.
Featured in New Media Writing Prize 2010
This multimedia poem is a profound meditation on place. Based on photographs and sound recordings taken from the same window over the course of a year, this work seeks to capture a sense of space for readers to enter. Norman directly credits John Cage as an inspiration for this piece— a musician interested in listening to ambient sounds and directing audiences to the same, as he did with his (in)famous 4’33”.