When poetry is performed, the audience is invited into the spectacle and becomes instrumental in the making of meaning. In most cases, this is a passive, private exercise on the part of the reader, but it can be transformed into an active, playful one for every soul in its presence. As I examined in my previous piece, a more active, Boalian approach to audience participation can help us understand some of the more playful dimensions of poetry as a form, in terms of performativity, dialogue, exploration of semiotic devices and of text as a kind of architecture, fluid roleplaying (as reader or poet, for instance), and the creation and transformation of meaning on personal and collective levels. I used Charles Olson’s ideas about “composition by field” to talk about poetry as something of a dynamic system in which meaning is shaped and reshaped by body language, where the human breath is living grammar.
[This is part one of a two-part series of essays in which I explore poetry as a vector for play. I discuss the dynamics of author and reader, the form of poetry as a "field" for active audience participation, creativity, exploration, performance, cooperation and playful modeling of systems. This first piece deals with explicit, mediated audience participation in physical or online spaces. This will foreground a discussion on hypertext and other digital poetry in part two.]
Back in April 2013, I attended SpokenWeb’s “Approaching the Poetry” Series Conference at the VAV Gallery, the exhibition space connected with the Fine Arts department of my alma mater, Concordia University. I actually only attended the poetry reading component of the conference, offered as extra credit by my Canadian Literature professor. I thought I would at least get some mild enjoyment out of it, and—hey!—extra credit. But what I didn’t know at the time, sitting on a plastic fold-out chair in a sterile, angular, white gallery space, was that I would be given much to think about in terms of play.
I went ahead and made another Twine poem. There aren’t a lot of links in this one, but there are a few text boxes that you can use to add a line to their stanzas. Each stanza is on a time limit, though, so see how quickly you can come up withe something clever.
While I would normally have just embedded Poetry followed you on twitter on this page with an iframe, I decided I like the way it looked in full-screen and so uploaded it to philome.la (you can play it here).
In episode four of the Sufficiently Human Podcast, Zolani and I discuss what it means to leave videogames through the context of a close reading of Deirdra “Squinky” Kiai’s Ruin Jam game, Quing’s Quest.
I made this thing, for Ruin Jam, a game jam by novelist, game designer and speaker Caelyn Sandel. From the site,
“Ruin Jam is a game jam celebrating the nonexistent demise of video games, inspired by a lot of current events and a certain blog post. It’s open to anyone and everyone who has been, is being, or plans to be accused of ruining the games industry. All Ruiners are welcome to contribute to the death of video games, provided that they adhere to the spirit of the jam.”
Let’s talk, for a minute, about journalistic ethics. They’ve been invoked a lot this week, mostly in order to justify a lot of bloviating, misogynistic nonsense. But I’d like to seriously talk about ethics for a minute, how they’re being used and what they can mean for both games reporting and criticism. I want to talk about Kotaku’s latest policy.
The internet, we’ve all been told, is this mass democratizing conversation within a big virtual park. Anyone is allowed to participate (sort of)!
We are told it’s an intangible space where people can safely share their opinions, innermost thoughts, and pornography (again, sort of). The internet is a place where people can congregate, form communities, escape the burdens of everyday life, and most of all, be heard.
[TW: This piece contains discussion of sexual abuse, trauma, misogyny, transphobia and racism]
“A day in the FBI was never like this before! You are Special Agent Dale Cooper and you’ve found yourself trapped inside the Black Lodge, a surreal and dangerous place between worlds. Try as you might, you can’t seem to find anything but the same room and hallway no matter which way you turn. Worse yet, your doppleganger is in hot pursuit! You have no choice but to keep running through the room and hallway (or is it more than one?) and above all else, don’t let your doppleganger touch you!”
I finally adopted the cat in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. It took twenty Kim coins—one of three purchasable in-game currencies that I can use to buy clothing, accessories, furniture or goodwill from NPCs.
I didn’t actually pay real money for these coins, the primary reason being that I’m broke, and the game’s alternate coin-gathering method of downloading sponsored apps wasn’t being very responsive. So I worked for those coins. I tapped my way through photoshoots and mastered the catwalk. Whenever I ran out of energy—a blue lightning bolt constituting probably the most important in-game currency, since without it you can’t do much—I would fly coast to coast scrounging for energy in bushes, behind fire hydrants, et cetera. All the while I’m on the A-list, mired in a celebrity feud, and jetsetting around completing modeling contracts.
In this episode, Zolani Stewart and I discuss the hyperaccelerated culture of games writing, the preoccupation with “newness” or immediacy in videogames as a capitalist myth, the importance of historical and cross-comparative study, and how to talk about games like Mountain in that context. “Context” must be an important concept here because I’m pretty sure I say it like 900 times.