“Unravelled” by Spenser Wain, Zac Urness, and Kollin Branicki

Screen capture from "Unravelled" by Spenser Wain, Zac Urness, and Kollin Branicki. Background of two images of a man that is fragmented with words written in each fragment. Text: "LOVE" "HEALTH" "FINANCE" "RESIDENCE"
Open “Unravelled” by Spenser Wain, Zac Urness, and Kollin Branicki

This hypertext poem tells the story of a young man whose life unravels because of “one bad day.” The hypertext is structured to display four aspects of his life—love, health, finance, and residence— at different stages of deterioration. In the first stage, he seems to have it all: a relationship gone public via Facebook, a new house in a sunny tropical climate, an iPhone with whom he hears a message about needing further medical testing, and a $20,000 loan with a complete balance due at the end of the month. That financial situation is probably all that is needed to push anyone over the edge. I’m unsure what led to such a casual e-mail from a bank requesting full payment of what is probably a defaulted loan, but it’s hard to believe this situation happened in a single day. Perhaps losing his job should’ve been in the first node, so the narrative sequence is more logical. The casual, prosy diction of the “poem” nodes (identified as such in the title bars), along with their center-justified large fonts express the speaker’s voice in short units that evoke title headings more than stanzas.

Like “Chasing Pandora,” this work was included in the 2011 New Media Writing Prize student shortlist, and it shows a young generation’s worldview shaped by contemporary items and services, such as Facebook, banks, iPhones, and psychiatric medication, in which life moves at such an accelerated pace that a single bad day can throw everything into disarray.

Featured in New Media Writing Prize 2011

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