“Blue Hyacinth” by Pauline Masurel and Jim Andrews

Screen capture of Blue Hyacinth:  M M M M  Blue Hyacinth Pauline Masurel Jim Andrews  V I S P O Stir Frys Tabitha flexes against the collar . I try to sound as though I know what I'm talking about. in the alleyway. I just like the look of the grey mare; the bookie can tell, it was probably obvious from the moment I walked in. the hyacinth itself or secreted  When it happens the noise insists before,  ...it goes on for months  another in the corner is smoking. She's watching the race . Rather, it's a subtle matter of class, . when she can't gain entry, Across the road clubbers spill out on to the pavements - he comes. he goes. she waits  for weeks.  after all.  she picks her way back across the landing  - Do you want this,  I could report it  slowly, sadly who would care? and begins to stroke it through the sticky tangle of her hair.
Open “Blue Hyacinth” by Pauline Masurel and Jim Andrews

Slightly modifying the “cut-up” technique of Dadaist and Modernist writers in her digital work, “Blue Hyacinth,” Pauline Masurel encourages her readers not to destroy the original four poems, but rather jumble them together, stir them up, and weave them in a way that shares in the creative process of generating an individualized text. By presenting “Blue Hyacinth” as a stir-fry work (using Jim Andrews’ “Stir Fry Texts” framework) that allows readers to reflect on the original poems, Masurel is changing the author-reader relationship. Masurel ensures that readers become extensions of herself by encouraging readers to manipulate her writings and fashion a text that becomes less a traditional example of poetry and more a collaborative piece shared between individual reader and writer. With “Blue Hyacinth,” Masurel crafts a space where traditional print culture roles fade and are replaced by their mutable digital counterparts. Never once just a reader or an author, those that encounter “Blue Hyacinth” are able to exercise a semblance of autonomy that is novel to texts within the digital medium.

Masurel’s four poems within “Blue Hyacinth” all are able to bleed together due, in part, to simple and vague syntax. Wanting more discontinuity “in events rather than grammar,” Masurel’s text is more focused on providing the reader control over the action and characters of the four separate poems. For example, in “Tabitha flexes against her collar” I am able to alter Masurel’s original text to produce a narrative that is completely my own. By way of random stirring, I produce the following:

Screenshot (1)
An example of the stir-fry method at work.

What originally seems to open with Tabitha the cat (or pet?) padding “softly out of the room” turns quickly into something altogether different when I stir things up. No longer an animal, my version of Tabitha seems to be involved in a tryst with a bouncer (one wonders why she is still wearing that collar). Or, perhaps I am reading far too much into my own creation. That, I argue, is the point.

Masurel seems to establish that her vaguely coherent and cogent poems can be altered by her readers into something that begs for contextualization. The reader then becomes a generator of subplot for the stirred narratives that she creates. The reader may perhaps be taking an incomprehensible narrative (the original) and creating an equally incomprehensible narrative, but then she is tasked to understand the changes that she has made to the poems—filling in the narrative gaps left by the vague characters and events to see or read what she desires. Doing so gives more of a sense of ownership to the words and phrases that Masurel chose originally. When you stir-fry “Blue Hyacinth,” take note of how much the original poems inform your contextualization and, more importantly, how your freshly stirred poems inform the characters and events of the originals. Where does Masurel’s creation end and yours begin?

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