INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS FUNKHOUSER (1)

BY JORGE LUIZ ANTONIO (2)

JUNE 2003

 

Resumo

 

Num misto de diálogo, entrevista, biografia, depoimento e resenha, Jorge Luiz Antonio e Christopher Funkhouser falam sobre poesia eletrônica, ciberpoesia, Internet. O foco central do diálogo é um misto de depoimentos e comentários de Antonio sobre a obra de Funkhouser (ensaio, resenha, (ciber)poesia, performance, conferência, edição de antologias, poesia falada, etc.), que, ao responder, oferece um panorama da poesia norte-americana contemporânea.

 

Palavras chave

Poesia Norte-Americana – Ciberpoesia – Chris Funkhouser

 

Chris Funkhouser – photo taken by Jorge Luiz Antonio

in front of Faculdade Senac de Comunicação e Artes, São Paulo,

Brazil, where Funkhouser gave a lecture on October, 2002, in his

first trip to Brazil

 

Abstract

In a combination of dialogue, interview, biography, testimonial and review,
Jorge Luiz Antonio and Christopher Funkhouser talk about electronic poetry,
cyberpoetry, and the Internet. The main focus of the dialogue is a mixture of
testimony and commentary by Antonio on Funkhouser's work (poetry, essay,
review, cyberpoetry, performance, lecture, anthology editing, sonorous
poetry, and so on). Funkhouser's responses reflect the experience of an
active North American poet.

 

Keywords

North American Poetry – Cyberpoetry – Chris Funkhouser

 

 

            It would better to call this a dialogue rather than an interview: Chris Funkhouser and I are going to talk about electronic poetry by means of his essays, poetry works, and our opportunity to meet each other.

            This style recalls Socrates' dialogues, or, more recently, the "Dialogues" between Roman Jakobson and Krystyna Pomorska, or even the first literary genre used by the first Brazilian and Portuguese writers in XVIth century, like "Diálogo Sobre a Conversão do Gentio" (Dialogue on the Conversion of the Native) by Father Manuel da Nóbrega (c. 1558), or "Diálogo das Grandezas do Brasil (Dialogues on the largeness of Brazil), by Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão (1618). 

            But first let me introduce Chris Funkhouser...

 

Chris Funkhouser’s critical commentary has appeared in Telling It Slant:  Avant Garde Poetics of the 1990s, SIGWEB Newsletter (Association for Computing Machinery), TEXT Technology: The Journal of Computer Text Processing, African American Review, American Book Review, Electronic Book Review, and on the International Anthology of Digital Poetry (Eduardo Kac, ed.) and Of(f) the W.W.Web (Heiko Idensen, ed.) cd-roms.  He has published interviews, reviews, poetry and other creative work in Callaloo, Hambone, Talisman, Exquisite Corpse, XCP:  Cross-Cultural Poetics, and numerous other magazines, anthologies, and Web sites.  The author of several chapbooks, including LambdaMOO_Sessions (Writer’s Forum, 2003), MOOAGE, The Idea of Switzerland, and Crossed Its/Across Sit, he has as a member of the poetry/music/performance ensembles thelemonade and Purkinge toured widely in the United States.  Funkhouser was editor of The Little Magazine Volume 21, the first North American literary magazine published on cd-rom (1995), and of the online journals EJournal, Descriptions of an Imaginary Universe, and Passages.  He now edits Newark Review and We Press, is poetry editor for Terra Nova:  Nature and Culture (MIT Press book series) and webmaster for amiribaraka.com.  He earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Albany-SUNY (1997), an M.A. in English from the University of Virginia (1988), and studied at the Jack Kerouac School of Writing and Poetics at Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) in Boulder, Colorado.  A lecturer and performer, he has made research visits to England, Scotland, Barbados, Malaysia, China, Brazil and numerous locations in the United States in recent years and is now a professor in Humanities and Social Sciences (Professional and Technical Communication) at New Jersey Institute of Technology (see http://web.njit.edu/~cfunk).

 

JORGE LUIZ ANTONIO – Your biographical notes are impressive. Our dialogue will hopefully give readers insight about the diverse types of works you have been involved with.

 

CHRIS FUNKHOUSER – Thanks, Jorge.  I appreciate the opportunity to explain or build context as well as introduce concepts.  Hopefully we can engage new audiences that may not have encountered the type of projects I’m involved with.  That is the idea(l), right?  I feel like vehicle for the work, certainly a component of it, but the work itself—what it is and is not—is what’s interesting.  I have been an energetic poet, performer and publisher for nearly twenty years and for the past decade or so have given a lot of attention to working with and writing critically about new media poetry (or whatever one opts to call it).  For several years I had few other pursuits.  Thankfully both poetry and “cyberpoetry” extend numerous dimensions for consideration and I continue to be dedicated to them.  A professor who has advanced technical skills (and whose hair has flecks of gray in it), I am supposedly an authority—and in some ways that’s true—but really am as much a student who is in a state of perpetual exploration.  Since you are curious to know more and propose this conversation (my first interview as such), I want to make it useful, so let’s talk…

 

JLA My first contact with your works, Chris, was when I started preparing my projects for Ph.D. thesis in the Communication and Semiotic Program at Pontificia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC SP). It was September, 1999, when I found a reference to “Toward a Literature Moving Outside Itself:  The Beginnings of Hypermedia Poetry” (http://web.njit.edu/~cfunk/web/inside.html) in a section of a Brazilian newspaper under the theme of "Poesia Digital".  It is a very good essay: I have kept it in mind in order to make something similar referring to Brazilian digital poetry: good and clear categories, a good hypertext, a way to understand well the subject.

 

CF – The reference in Folha was to the “A Proto-Anthology of Hypermedia Poetry” I edited and published on the World Wide Web in 1996, which has a winding story to it.  The “Proto-Anthology” stemmed from a paper I gave (“Hypermedial Art:  Interacting with Hypertext Literature”) at a festival of Russian and American Poetry at Stevens Institute of Technology, which was published later that year in the journal Talisman (with the title you refer to) and also on a cd-rom in Germany called Of(f) the W.W.Web (coupled with another WWW hypertext essay “Multimedia Effects:  American Poetry Layered Since Black Mountain” into Poetry Webs 1996).  The day after I returned from the festival I was going to e-mail the lecture to some friends and realized it instead could be made into a substantive hypertext using menus with multiple links for each pertinent reference, and could be somewhat interactive by encouraging and inviting reader feedback.  It was exciting to produce, also laborious:  I was not using anyone else’s model and it involved the compilation of dozens of files.  Once it was on the Web it took on a life of its own and many people who found it via search engine did contribute links and use it as a reference point for teaching.  From this point onward I came into contact with like-minded scholars from a range of disciplines around the world.  It probably remains my most widely read work and regrettably that the site has not had a firm URL and the link up-keep it requires to remain vibrant.  That the ideas and content are strong enough to withstand technological or formal developments that have come since is gratifying.  The general perspective I had then still more or less does pertain to the strands of digital poetry recently outlined by Miekal And after the E-Poetry 2003 festival (“programming, evispo, soundpoetry, text, typography & codework”).

 

JLA – In this essay, your delimitation is precise, especially the five categories for "all poetry which uses a computer screen as hypertextual interface": hypermedia, hypercard, hypertext, network hypermedia, and text-generating software.

            At present, have you more categories in mind?

 

CF – Now that you list them, those classifications seem really premature.  Before the Web, more offline works (diskette, cd-rom) were produced.  Now, hypermedia, hypertext, and network hypermedia are essentially all the same, and hypercard (as John Cayley pointed out when I made the “Proto- Anthology”) is going to be either hypertext or hypermedia and as a particular piece of software does not need a category of its own.  The outline I’ve been working with in recent years, which grew out of this earlier work, includes:  1.) Graphical poetry, driven by visual aspects of the interface or images that may be mapped/linked to connected materials (thus also hypermedia); 2.) Animated or Kinetic poetry (also graphical), where several screens are programmed to create a sense of movement in or through the text; 3.) Videographic poetry, relying in part or whole on digitized video; 4.) Collaborative poetry of all types; 5.) Computer-aided or generated compositions; 6.) Text-based hyperlinked poetry; 7.) Audio poetry; and 8.) Code as poetry.  It is important to recognize that hybrids of these practices often occur.  I mentioned above the areas delineated via the E-Poetry group, and while I have questions about some of the specifics within those broad classifications coined by And, the areas of investigation are akin to the way I see it and make sense.  The genre is a plurality.  Works created within it one way or another branch from these stems but I wouldn’t call mine a definitive framework.  It roughly corresponds with other views on the subject.  In Digital Poetics:  The Making of E-Poetries Loss Pequeño Glazier highlights three principle forms of electronic text (“hypertext, visual/kinetic text, and works in programmable media”), and Caterina Davino’s Tecno-Poesia e realtà virtuali uses “computer poetry, ipermedia e Internet,” “Performance,” and “Video” as classifications.  Clearly we’re all focusing on the same object, through (thankfully and appropriately) a range of perspectives and lenses.  It may not be so important to codify the work this way, except to build a general context for the uninitiated.  I do think it would be instructive, however, as I suggested in the observations in my “Report on E-Poetry 2003” (see http://www.wepress.org/epoetry/report.html), to collaboratively create some sort of “Index of Cyberpoetic Forms” that names and explains the dozens of techniques used to create digital poetry.

 

JLA – As I was saying, in 2000 I started my doctoral degree studies and found "Vispo.com", contacted Jim Andrews, from Canada, and, then, started a very instructive dialogue with people in Webartery.

During the time of E Poetry 2001, I found you, Chris, in Webartery, and, then, in E-Poetry egroup. We exchanged some emails a little bit later, and received the printed chapbook The Idea of Switzerland in June 2001.

Trying to read and understand it, I could get a meaning like a type of dialogues, as a written play, talking about an imaginary city. A very interesting and awesome cover (which was a collaboration with your wife), a kind of introduction to Internet world or something. 

 

            When you performed part of The Idea of Switzerland in Professor Lucio Agra's classroom at Faculdade das Artes do Corpo at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, in October, 2002, I finally could understand why I almost drove myself crazy to try to get the meaning of printed material.

 

Chris Funkhouser – The Idea - 1994

 

CF – I’d like to hear more about the revelations you had at the performance.  Of course, it is understandable why any reader would be confused by this work, as it is unconventional by almost any standard found in writing or print and thus possibly useless for many people.  This chapbook is an edited transcript of a session on an Internet MOO (MOO is the online text-based "virtual reality" system where many people connect to a common database and create their own "space," objects, characters, and dialog).  Since MOOs operate with an entirely different set of syntactical and formal conventions and are co-written by many people communicating in “real-time” (with mainly social agendas), it takes awhile to get used its style.  Only in the past couple of years did I begin to transfer the digital transcripts I created using MOOs into printed form.  From 1993 to 2000 I occasionally used them at performances or during radio plays with improvisational sounds, which were well received from the beginning.  Last summer I made a book of them called Whereis Mineral:  Adventures in MOO that I’d like to publish, a section of it is being printed by Lawrence Upton and Writer’s Forum (London) this summer (LambdaMOO_Sessions).  Until now every editor that had seen them had rejected them.  Repurposing MOO texts by extracting them from their original context and media, the documents of these interactions reflect the characteristics of animated, machine-modulated human interaction, and represent a new kind of collaborative literature.  The audience is presented with the opportunity to absorb the creative techniques, possibilities and limitations that emerge as a result of real-time interactivity on digital networks.  The illumination and memorialization of MOO as a textual tool, a place of creative discovery, and the development of narrative and forms of personal expression in virtual space are the primary qualities I see in it.  I appreciate the oddness or oddity of this work, and believe it is beneficial to investigate and repurpose the types of narrative that are happening online (see http://www.wepress.org/mooage.html for another example of this type of text). 

 

Chris Funkhouser – Mooage - 2002

 

JLA – My attention to your performances and lectures was very challenging, since I needed to explain what you were presenting. It is quite difficult to comprehend and, at the same time, clarify and translate.

            In the case of "The Idea of Switzerland", my interest was bigger because I needed to understand and to connect the parts I had in mind.

            Poetry performances are very interesting, and I am very curious about because they don't happen frequently in Brazil.

            As I knew "The Idea" as a written dialogue, a transcription, the performance repeated all the dialogues with poetical intonation. So my impressions about the performance were good. Voice, movements and text made a poem for the moment, an oral poem. It was another style of poem, different from the text itself. Reading, a person sees words and imagines sounds in mind. Sounds are heard and made other images. The words become voice and the sonority is the poem itself.

 

CF – Having a voice and a body in space to intone the voices in the text helps, even if as mentioned I’ve also performed these via radio (with live music) and had enthusiastic responses in that mode.  A new type of narrative is developed in these vignettes, and maybe they are better revealed when heard or are presented with multiple layers (sonic, visual), though the MOO experiences themselves were only text.  I add videographic elements to the pieces for performances, sometimes representing the script moving like a scroll projected on a screen so you hear and read it at approximately the same time.  With thousands of pages of MOO transcripts to choose from, texts for publication and performance are selected because they are perceived to express something a wider audience could consider further, though I don’t expect it to happen immediately and do understand if it doesn’t enchant everyone.

 

JLA – Then you came to Brazil in October, 2002. You still are the first digital poet I have met, I mean, from another country. Of course I have many web friends like Jim Andrews, Ted Warnell, David Daniels, Fatima Lasay, Joel Weishaus, Reiner Strasser, Susan Katz, Clemente Padin, and many others, with whom I share private subjects and feel as we have been close friends for a long time.

 

CF – Hopefully more North Americans will visit you and you will have the opportunity to travel to see others.  It takes awhile to meet everyone:  that’s a condition of our asynchronous international subculture.  Likewise, you know many people I am in touch with but have never met.  Isn’t this part of the reason the Internet was initiated, to bring people with common interests together into a multi-layered network?  I haven’t experienced disappointment when meeting someone I’ve enjoyed corresponding with online, either, so the system has worked well so far.  My strongest collaborations have been with people that I have shared proximity with at one time or another but I’ve had successful online collaborations too so believe that expressive chemistry can be developed either way.  In the case of something like this dialog, which we making via e-mail, I do think that it helps me to “talk” with you because of the many hours we spent together in São Paulo and the voluminous correspondence we have exchanged since.  But I would never argue that using this same method couldn’t work for people who didn’t know each other; that happens often.  What do you think?  Are we more inclined to formally extend our dialog and be comfortable in the process because we know each other personally?  Since our engagement revolves about art and scholarship, it is about that rather than much else.  Dealing with issues of historical inquiry we can with each assist each other (exchange data/information) from afar but in dealing with subjective/aesthetic/ideological issues, I am sure it helps that we have bonded over common viewpoints discovered in conversation.

 

JLA – Yes, you are right, Chris: proximity or online collaboration should work if we feel similar ideas, a "written" friendship and confidence, no matter our nationalities or languages.

            Fatima Lasay, from Philippines, and I have made four creative and collaborative works, and I know her only by photo and by a recorded voice (she read a poem of mine in Portuguese, Filipino and English).

            Internet communication is another form of the old way of exchanging letters (which I used to do very much), but much more efficient, especially when the WWW allowed us to contact new persons at our own will.

Going ahead, let's talk about your works. Crossed Its / Across Sit is a very tiny booklet you gave me in our first meeting, if my memory is correct. A very interesting use of acrostic, a way of making poetry from XVth century.

 

Chris Funkhouser – Crossed Its Acroos Sit - 2000

 

 

CF – I learned about and practiced writing acrostics while studying at Naropa (the West’s only Buddhist college) in 1986 during a workshop with Jack Collom.  For some reason a decade later I began to write them frequently.  Contemplating person or place (or whatever) I use a name or signifier as a starting point and build a poem using words that come to me that fit appropriately into the structure.  My interest in the form continues, and grows in ways.  I recently created a series of acrostic/mesostic poems (using search strings in the digital Oxford English Dictionary and html) for my sister Margaret’s wedding (see http://www.wepress.org/wedding/I1.html).  Making this variation reminded me of crossword puzzles and Scrabble games.  Though I don’t always choose or wish to do so, I enjoy being able to work with traditional (if somewhat simple and obscure) poetic forms from time to time, and actively bring those forms into digital space.

 

JLA – Your Ph.D. thesis, Cybertext Poetry: effects of digital media on the creation of poetic literature, is a good study and an important contribution to the theme. It should be published for it will help students to understand e-poetry evolution throughout time and space, that is, to understand the beginning of computer poetry, especially before the Web.

            There are fragmented studies that have been published, but yours brings a kind of historical panorama together.

 

CF – The dissertation itself was a lot of work and is alright as a dissertation but the fact is that it is still being written even though it was “finished” for the degree six years ago.  I was lucky to have an academic advisor, Don Byrd, whose guidance in the endeavor was tremendous.  Since working with him I keep refining and sharpening the focus more closely on the period before the Web, surveying and analyzing the work and theory of that period.  Cyberpoetry is still a relatively small discipline but since it is a global phenomenon, and growing, new historical input continually emerges.  For instance, in the past few months you have sent or directed me to many “new” materials that have been available for years but not in my sphere.  Using the term “cybertext” in the title, at the time, was a bit erroneous since I was operating on hearsay about Espen Aarseth’s work and did not fully understand its nuances.  His book was not yet published, so I had not yet read Cybertext:  Perspectives on Ergodic Literature and by Aarseth’s terminology my dissertation is not true to his conception of “cybertext”.  As time passes, I remain extremely enthusiastic about Aarseth’s ideas, and do bring them in to my book (now titled CYBERPOETRY BEFORE THE WEB:  DYNAMICS IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPOSITIONS) in the final chapter in the narrative to discuss textual dynamics in cyberpoetry.  This research began when I entered graduate school in 1992.  Since then have been intensively engaged with creative, critical, and editorial interests relating to cyberpoetry.  The book at this point is my albatross so I want to complete a suitable draft by summer’s end.  I aspire to give readers a depthful understanding of the dynamics of the first efforts in digital poetry so that the early approaches and philosophies, some of which are important but are unknown, might influence future work in the field. 

 

JLA – We still don't have a complete denomination for the poetry that deals with the computer. Historically we had cybernetic artificial poetry (Max Bense, in 1959), computer poetry, cyberpoetry, new media poetry, e-poetry. In a general sense, the term tecno-poetry (I am referring to Davinio's book, published in 2002) seems to be general and to refer to the whole phemonena: the relationship between new technologies and poetry.

      I am curious about your new book and hope it will come soon. It will be a good contribution to the study of electronic poetry before the Web.

 

CF – Coincidentally, my first writings on this subject were done under the rubric of “technopoetics.”  I abandoned it after a few pieces, lacking commitment to (or interest in developing) it as a label to impose; some of the essays are available via my author page at the Electronic Poetry Center (see http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/funkhouser).  A few people have used this term and it does, like the other names you note designate a broad sensibility for the work being discussed.  Another book that’s worth mentioning at this point is Brian Kim Stefans’ Fashionable Noise:  On Digital Poetics (Atelos, 2003).  Stefans uses the term cyberpoetry throughout his book, arguing creatively about its merits and whether it exists or not.  He is clear about the meaning for what he calls “Computer Poetry,” and that is when a computer program (algorithm) converts words or phrases from a database into poetry.  As for “cyberpoetry,” Stefans claims he can, “define it only in negatives: (1) the lack of limitation to black and white words on a page, (2) the lack of the possibility for mechanical reproduction (there being no original), (3) the lack of closure and the lack of choice.  The first half of the third of these qualities is easily disposed of.”  Stefans backs up his sophistication as a poet and programmer with strong, refreshingly critical views on the form (many are presented satirically) and I hope his book, another alternative to the viewpoints that we’ve been talking about, is widely read.  In my book cyberpoetry is presented as a generality at the beginning, and is represented as something else after an understanding of the history and dynamics of the form is presented.  I use it as a convenient, non-binding label and still remain apathetic about establishing a singular conception of it.  Even when (or if) the genre becomes canonical (which won’t be soon) a finite classification for it will remain elusive.

 

JLA – Kenning: a newsletter of contemporary poetry: poetics & nonfiction writing is a cd edited by you and Patrick F. Durgin and it represents something almost unusual in Brazil: the spoken poetry. Of course some venues related to spoken poetry happen here, and there are some long-playing vinyl records, cassettes, and other sound-storage devices (film, television, video cassettes). Recently, for example, I found "Coleção Poesia Falada" (Spoken Poetry Collection), a series of cds of poems by several Brazilian poets and story teller.

            As you told me in an email, the word "Kenning" means: teaching, instruction, knowledge. So we can say both cds come to make us learn how to feel and understand poetry by listening to it.

            Kenning was the second gift I received from you, and it is really a very good production: I enjoyed all 20 poems. I would like to hear something more about this experience from you, Chris.

 

Chris Funkhouser (editor) – Kenning – 2002-2003

 

CF – Kenning is a project Patrick Durgin started by a few years ago that caught my attention because an early issue featured an interview with one of my favorite writer/editors, Nathaniel Mackey.  A couple of years ago as Kenning was preparing an audio edition, Charles Bernstein (a professor of Durgin’s) who knew of the archive of recordings I have made of contemporary poets, suggested to him that we co-produce the project.  We were introduced at E-Poetry 2001, spent a few months exchanging recordings back and forth, and finished it a year later.  Patrick did all of the production chores, I worked with him on establishing the content.  Though they could be better, I do think that these compact discs are a decent lesson regarding contemporary poetry in the United States.  One of the discs is a book-length poem by California poet Leslie Scalapino.  The other is an anthology that consists of a diverse styles of poetry acquired from various sources, about one-third of those are my recordings, works by Bernstein, Will Alexander, Allen Ginsberg, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Amiri Baraka, Purkinge, and Mackey.  I produced the first of my audio poetry anthologies in 1989 (We Magazine 11) and have produced several titles as well as works on video and cd-rom since.  The filmmaker/musicologist Harry Smith was someone I knew in the late 1980s and I was inspired by his inclination to make recordings of everything, and another teacher I had was persuasive in his argument that in order to subvert popular media one had to produce work using it.  I am a musician and work with audio in various ways—just yesterday I recorded Baraka again—and am fortunate to own some basic studio equipment and software.  My wife, Amy Hufnagel, who is a visual artist, and I are presently building a studio building, designed for multimedia production.  Once this space is ready, I would like to produce one compact disc per year for the rest of my life!  A number of spoken word compact discs have been released in the USA, though only one group that I can think of, Rattapallax, seems committed to publishing audio productions with any regularity.  They recently did a special issue (with cd) on “New Brazilian and American Poetry” (co-edited by Edwin Torres and Flàvia Rocha) that you should see if you haven’t.

 

JLA – You recorded "Hum Bom", a poem by Allen Ginsberg. He was your teacher, wasn't he? Tell me something about the great beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

 

CF – “Hum Bom” is one of the best tracks on the Kenning audio edition, vibrant oratory reverberating cultural meaning and dissent.  Ginsberg was an amazing individual, and at the point we met (1986) he was the most interesting person I’d ever encountered.  We shared some common interests and he became my mentor and was a component of the support system I needed as a young artist.  We were friends and had many visits during the next decade.  He taught me many useful things, including mediation (zazen), about literature and writing, tolerance, and living compassionately.  Ginsberg was a brave man who was not afraid to say anything, adopting and embodying Kerouac’s idea that, “candor ends paranoia,” and an incredible performer who used his voice to challenge all injustice and promote beauty in order “to ease the pain of living.”  He was born in Newark, New Jersey where I now teach, and it was an odd coincidence that I was selected for the job the same week he passed away.  My work with Baraka (another poet associated with the Beat Generation who also happens to live in Newark, see http://www.amiribaraka.com) is somehow an extension of the connection I had with Ginsberg.

 

JLA – I still don't have Gravitational Intrigue, but could appreciate this cd-rom when I first met Professor Lucio Agra and listened to his interesting lecture at PUC SP a few days after he came from E-Poetry 2001, in Buffalo, USA.

            Another interesting anthology of e-poetries.

            Making anthologies is what you like to do, Chris, and I do know it has a special meaning and importance for you, so please tell me your ideas about this type of work?

 

CF – Gravitational Intrigue was the second cd-rom issue of The Little Magazine produced by doctoral students in English at SUNY-Albany.  I was editor of the first one (see below), and didn’t have much to do with Gravitational Intrigue though its editors are friends of mine and I have a very simple hypertext (word/image/links) piece on there called “Canada 12/97”.  The production value of work on Gravitational Intrigue, which came after the Web had made a strong impact, is far superior compared to our initial project.  It is true that I have engineered many publications as an editor and publisher (see http://www.wepress.org, http://web.njit.edu/~newrev); it is demanding but is work I have enjoyed.  As I came to be a writer I was in a class with Anne Waldman who told us that all young writers should start a magazine.  Two or three months later, my roomate Ted Eden (now a professor at Hanover College) and I initiated We Magazine/We Press.  Before that I my only experience had been a year on the editorial staff of Virginia Literary Review at University of Virginia, which was quite formal.  At first we explored some ideas I was curious about, like anonymous authorship, and operated in a thoughtful but absurdist DIY (do it yourself) mode that evolved and grew with some refinement while I was living in California from 1987 to 1992.  Since then I’ve always been working on something and have produced projects in practically every medium.  Many people around me—teachers, friends, and other artists—have been very generous with their energy and guidance; putting together publications is one of the ways I begin to give back to this extended community.  Editing is an excellent means to gather and mix viewpoints and styles.  Ideally creating anthologies and magazines broadens dissemination of the materials.  Lately I’ve done less of this work, though I don’t sense that my interest in it is waning.  I’ve been doing things like organizing a New Media Performance Series on the NJIT campus for the past three years, bringing great artists to campus for documented presentations (Cayley, And, Azevedo, Gironda, Stefans, Jennifer Ley, Maria Mencia, Lori Anderson, Alan Sondheim, Nicole Peyrafitte, Richard Kostelanetz and others).  In any case, Waldman is right:  it is incredibly instructive to edit, and it is also culturally important to bring artistic energies together.  But it can take a lot of time away from other endeavors so though I have some editing projects in mind my attention is going into other areas.  Working as an editor has challenged me to develop countless technical skills, and have learned a lot about writing by reading thousands of manuscripts.  When I became an online editor in 1993, my ability to adapt to and negotiate digital space unquestionably increased my professional and creative value; what I had been doing previously (in analog and print) was extended and facilitated via the computer.  I am not sure that it is worth mentioning, but my astrological chart contains no “fire” signs, which is uncommon.  I have heard that what one instinctively does in order to compensate for this is to create “fire” (equals energy) and to surround themselves with people who have it.  Being an active editor can (ideally) satisfy both of these needs.  Most fortunately I have had access to publishing resources (working at a printing company or via institutional support and grants) and have been able to get a lot done because of that.

 

JLA – The Little Magazine, volume 21, under the subtitle of  "multimeDia writing ImagerY", brings many e-poetries together. Besides some magazines and venues in WWW, this cd-rom is a good anthology.

            Editing and making selections for anthologies are activities you like very much. Would you like to say additional information about this preference of yours?

            Anthologies like yours represent a way of registering other poetries and it is also a kind of study: we have different and personnal making of e-poetries and the anthologies give us a very good panorama of this recent innovative poetry.

            The image of cover is good idea: a face that becomes a CD-ROM. A new reading? Another way of facing poetry?

Chris Funkhouser (editor) – A Little Magazine Volume 21 - 1995

 

CF – The image is captivating and struck me from the moment I saw it during a visit to photo-journalist Steve Laufer’s apartment in Los Angeles in 1989.  In fact a rough version of it was used for the cover of We Magazine 11 that year.  The real trick of editing is to select texts that somehow compliment other texts you’re selecting for a project.  Though we’d used Laufer’s image before (in xerox form) it matched the spirit of the cd-rom project in general thus it was (appropriately) repurposed.  Both of your “readings” are definitely accurate and are concepts we had on our minds as we designed it.  Even more can be discerned too.  Without a doubt we were embracing the cyborgian nature of everything, including literature.  One part of me sees the image as humanity getting smacked in the face by technology.  This view became especially germane when the editorial team of three (Belle Gironda, Ben Henry and I) collectively spent about five thousand hours working on it.  Coordinating and programming the work of seventy artists with few models as a basis for construction, inventing it from the ground (i.e. command line) up was beyond compare in terms of technical and aesthetic challenges I’ve faced as editor.  Few works submitted were rejected from the project.  One of the positive things about working with digital media is that you can often include a large amount of work in a publication on the Web, cd-rom, or DVD.  Most of the pieces on The Little Magazine, Volume 21 began as printed text, so editing became a matter of selecting works that we could plausibly translate into multimedia.  Working so much with the screen took a serious toll on my eyesight.  Viewing it now it is easy to see flaws, and like many things if I had to do it over again I’d use a completely different approach.  What has come since with the popularization of the Web to some degree makes our work clearly immature and maybe even misguided.  The publication as is received mixed reviews:  many reports glowed but a few met the project with a lot of resistance.  In fact, someone wrote an editorial in the Albany Times Union, denouncing the idea and inaccessibility of poetry on cd-rom.  Anyway, I’m glad we did it, and the experience was enormously informative to my research regarding hypertext design and in other areas of digital production and contemporary literature. 

 

JLA – I had the opportunity to attend to your poetry performances particularly your lecture at Professor Lucio Agra's classes at Faculdade das Artes do Corpo at PUC SP.

            This is another type of poetry not so common in Brazilian poetic practices, so I would like to hear more informations from you.

 

CF – On the occasion of Lucio Agra’s class, which had to do with body arts and performance, I used techniques and exercised liberties that weren’t implemented in other presentations because of the group’s area of inquiry.  Theatrical gestures like ringing a gong or changing my clothing thematically I have done before but don’t always use such measures in academic venues, which tend to be more subdued.  Generally, in multimedia performance (audio, video, voice) limits are imposed in terms of how much one can reasonably demand of the audience.  My performances do generally involve body movement, improvised music, singing/chanting, and projection of imagery.  Aren’t these comparable to the archetypal elements of performance?  Maybe it is awkward to use such standard conventions in the reformative digital realm, but that’s what I tend to do in a warped and unconventional way (at least in terms of content).  My best gigs (especially with thelemonade and Purkinge) have also involved audience participation or interaction with the performance, though this is terribly difficult to impose and doesn’t necessarily work so I don’t always incorporate it.

 

JLA – I want to talk about some of your electronic works. The first is “caprice says…” (http://www.wepress.org/RRF/caprice2.html). Very interesting. Is it a kind of experimental writing (sometimes it seems to be more writing, that is, prose, than poetry)?

Please I don't know what RRF is: an event? Where?

 

CF – The [R]-[R]-[F] – Festival is a new media project in the form of an online festival, conceived and produced by Agricola de Cologne; [R]-[R]-[F] stands for Remembering-Repressing-Forgetting.  I was asked by Wilton Azevedo, a guest-curator for the exhibition, to submit work so devised two pieces for [R]-[R]-[F], which is associated with an interesting Mexican exhibition, Interactiva (http://www.cartodigital.org/interactiva).  To reiterate what I said before regarding MOO, this is collaborative text that upon composition was not intended as literature/artistry but for social purposes.  The text for “caprice says…” is excerpted from Whereis Mineral:  Adventures in MOO.  I took a short passage that has been used in performance and chopped it up into a series of screen-size hyperlinked sections as another way of presenting a MOO transcript, recontextualizing and redesigning it in order to maximize a correspondence to the exhibition’s theme.  As usual I contribute some writing, made the log of the session, and technically/stylistically edited it.  This isn’t an interactive (or even non-linear) piece but by programming it in this way I hoped to add dramatic dimension and gave each section a different color configuration in order to build a sense of moving through the piece.  I’ve made other pieces like this but never showed them to anyone.  If any good feedback comes in maybe I’ll find and publish them somehow.  You could definitely call the MOO texts a unique form of experimental writing, one example amidst a lot of unusual “experimental” things happening.  What this really is is a reflection of my research, something I spent many hours investigating and found worthwhile within it, though since it is the sort of thing many readers won’t look at more than once or twice I’m not sure of its overall potency.  I feel that way about many cyberpoems, so perhaps that indicates something about the genre.  Not to suggest it is a superficial form but that it seems ironic that it remains a challenge to create engaging works using multiple/digital media given the supposed possibilities.  And of course it is worth considering whether or not depth is an issue at all.  Anyway, in order to make something that a reader would return to many times I would have to be able to incorporate more substance along with ergodic (interactive/collaborative) features.  Since there was a two megabyte limit on works for [R]-[R]-[F] I was working within those confines…

 

Very few people have seen this version of this work (or “foracity”) because the online exhibition has yet to be launched (http://www.newmediafest.org/rrf/startrrf1.htm, begins July 2003). 

 

JLA – And  “foracity” (http://www.wepress.org/RRF/foracity.html)?

“Foracity” is very nice and touching. It is a tribute to New York, as I could notice. Now images and words make a dialogue, a poetic one.

A woman with a baby, you, a kind of ship on a boat towards New York.

A good poetry below the image, which it is not an illustration, but a dialogue.

 

CF – The first picture is Amy (who had commuted through the Twin Towers every day for a couple of years), my six-week-old daughter (Constellation), and I on the Staten Island Ferry.  Two years later we had the misfortune to experience the “terrorist” attack in New York City:  I heard the second plane crash (though didn’t at the time know what was happening yet) and then watched in complete dismay at the Towers burning from the Ferry.  Seeing them collapse we were all more than temporarily dumbstruck, if not devastated, and our lives and culture became utterly altered.  My response partially included gathering and re-presenting written (poetry) and visual documentation I had made in the city.  These materials (writing/images/video) were initially shaped for a multimedia poetry performance in Malaysia (Multimedia University) a month afterwards, entitled “Necessity in Process.”  In performance, a series of sixty images and about twenty minutes of video are complimented by a soundtrack, sonic improvisation, and a series of three dozen (unpublished) poems written in NYC between 1998 and 2001.  For “foracity,” images from this series were selected in an effort to address the exhibition’s theme.  I didn’t think that the images themselves were enough so added text to them.  Instead of using a pre-9/11 poem as text, I repurposed fragments from a poem written in response to the WTC attack (used previously as preamble to the poems and as a verbal setting for animated images from the trip to Malaysia) and gave the piece a new name.

 

JLA – Let's talk about your works and your staying in Brazil, on October, 2002. A good and an important week for me and, I do hope, for you. I have had an opportunity to know you personally and your work much more. I attended to three of your lectures.  You put some materials on the web (http://web.njit.edu/~cfunk/2002/interpoesia/), but tell me something about these days.

 

CF – I am always stimulated by travel but being in Brazil was an especially remarkable experience with five days in Rio de Janeiro and six in São Paulo.  The radiance of the culture combined with the intellectual/creative quality of my hosts made the trip completely fulfilling even though the visit was somewhat brief.  The website you mention gives a detailed narrative of where I was and what I did professionally:  a lecture/performance in Rio, and four events in São Paulo each of which differed in nature.  Originally the trip centered on participating in III Mostra Interpoesia, which was cancelled the day before I left.  Since some other events had already been planned I decided to go.  Then you quickly organized new presentations for me, and Wilton Azevedo arranged a lovely lecture and performance for me with Suzete Venturelli at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, so it actually turned out to be more activity than if I’d followed the original plan.  Knowing Brazil’s stolid avant-garde reputation, I spent several weeks beforehand preparing new multimedia works, and also used the trip to launch a new cybertext piece, MOBY – DICK (http://web.njit.edu/~cfunk/2002/moby).  I also studied Portuguese in order to make things go more smoothly in terms of language differences.  All of the events went well, as impromptu and formal translators helped bridge communication gaps between the students and I.  The method that you and I used during our sessions, where I’d read a section of my work and you would then summarize and offer commentary in Portuguese, worked especially well I thought, and language was not so much of a barrier.  I was pleased and encouraged by having fresh work that was well received by audiences.  Spending time with scholars and artists every day and building friendships with them was superb.  In Rio, Sheila Cabo (my host at Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro) showed me some of the city and took me over to see the fabulous Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói.  André Vallias (whose work I have known and admired for years), and Katia Maciel and André Parente (who I was meeting for the first time) also showed me great places and spoke with me at length about their fascinating projects and viewpoints.  Serendipitously, I was able to attend a magnificent concert on Copacabana Beach featuring Gilberto Gil, Rita Lee, and Afro-Reggae.  In São Paulo, all of you (you, Lucio, Wilton and his family) were very generous with your time during my visit.  I saw terrific art, met great people and shared intense dialogs about digital poetry and poetics.  André Vallias arranged a meeting for me with Augusto de Campos, and Lucio and I spent a nice evening with him, talking and looking at some of his animated works.  Being in Brazil made a strong and certainly positive impact on me.  One example of the influence of the trip was that Vallias told me that he thought Flash MX would be the best program to use to synthesize the disparate strands of my work; now I’m using that program to combine sonic and animated elements in performance.  On another level, my scholarship has unquestionably deepened because of our exchanges following the shared experience of those days and discovering our mutual interests.  I will be São Paulo again in August (hopefully with the manuscript of my book in hand) and look forward to many visits in the future!

 

JLA – Descriptions of an Imaginary Universe (http://epc.buffalo.edu/ezines/diu/): Your titles are always a good verse. 

            I consider these writings to be spontaneous text shaped by postmodern esthetics. But meanings, and good messages, although fragmented, are always there. Is it your way of registering the world you see?

 

CF – DIU is one of my favorite projects, though I haven’t done anything like it since.  You’re right:  it was a totally spontaneous collaboration, where the people involved worked to create a virtual (critical) temporary autonomous zone. DIU was an exercise in poetics and anonymous writing that began before the WWW became popular, circulating via email list, usenet, and listserver between 1994 and 1996 (archives on the Electronic Poetry Center).  As graduate student I had learned the skills to use Unix and electronically format materials for circulation on the Internet.  A group of us (fellow students, poets, professors from various places) then took it upon ourselves to illustrate via creative example the limitations of ordinary/standard academic discourse by setting up this “imaginary universe” (or “university” etc.) that had no central location but the ‘Net, and no named authors.  Designed as an unhinged (free-flowing), content-driven, interactive seminar forty five issues were produced before we moved on to other projects (like our dissertations!).  During the past couple of years I edited a book with some help from Ben Friedlander (who was a major contributor), excising the weak work and ordering selections from the hundreds of pages of text circulated in DIU along with a lengthy essay and other commentary about the project.  I’d very much like to see it published because it presents a different angle on the aesthetics of contemporary poetics.  However, the material is unconventional in that it drew from so many sources and disciplines, some of which are unidentifiable, and I haven’t had any success with the publishers who have seen it so far.  I am glad all of the work is still online, but at the time when I put the issues together I didn’t use much discretion so the work in general is served well in its edited/print version plus it becomes available for readers who are not online...

 

JLA – Are the technological devices (computer, video, web, Internet, etc.) just another media for you to divulgate your poetry? What is different when you make poetry in a computer?

 

CF – Thanks to my parent’s interests, I have been a musician, writer, photographer and performer since childhood, and started as a publisher since 1986, so my involvement with digital technology follows years of work as an “analog” artist.  I was doing many of the same types of things prior to the time I started arranging work for the screen or projection.  Once I learned how to use hardware and software (which takes time away from writing) certain aspects of my work became extended and in some ways easier to conduct.  Much of the text in my “cyberpoetry” work thus far begins as poetry (or, as in the case of the MOO work, collaborative writing), which I then add sonic and visual elements to for presentation.  Though I have done several types of experimental digital work, I like to produce multimedia settings that compliment and augment the writing and become an additional vehicle for transforming whatever performative space is being used.  What is different when I “make poetry in a computer”?  Sometimes when I type a poem the digital thesaurus in Microsoft Word finds better words than ones my brain comes up with but that’s probably not what you mean.  In some cases, for instance in the “random” section of MOBY – DICK, the generated versions are sometimes (but not always) better than the original acrostics I created.  Randomization and text-generation (as in the cybertext version of the same piece) are two major areas that cyberpoets have investigated over the past forty years.  For me, though, the ability to integrate media and its function as a communication/publishing device make the computer a useful tool.  Recently I have been observing that readers of digital poems really like to be able to “interact” with what they are looking at, rather than have something projected at them (the TV/Video paradigm).  I probably should have realized this a long time ago.  What I want to do now is develop further insights and skills so that I can cultivate engaging interactive works in years to come. 

 

JLA – Your main research is about the cyberpoetry before the web. Good subject to point out, and your doctoral dissertation, articles and reviews are good examples of your studies. I can say the same about your own electronic poetry as well.

I would like to know about the poets you consider to be influenced by.

 

CF – This question is nearly impossible for me to answer succinctly.  Almost everyone I’ve mentioned so far would be included.  As Nate Mackey said in our 1991 interview, when I asked him to elaborate on the specifics of his artistic lineage, “If I start naming them I’ll name all day.”  Numerous people and ideas have captivated and instructed me at different times in every medium that I’ve been involved with.  Pretty much every book, person or thing I come into contact with becomes an influence of one kind or another, and not just artistically but in how I live and view life.  Techniques from diverse expressive and contemplative forms have effected me:  music, musical groups, dance, visual arts, architecture, Buddhism, clothing design, photography, and all kinds of writing have made an impact.  As a former athlete I have no problem with the idea of having a “coach.”  My friends and people close to me have been the best guides and most influential, which makes sense since supposedly I am a fire stealer.  Isn’t there always more to know?  I keep my mind as open as possible, tolerate what needs to be tolerated, and partake in the sponge model of artistry:  absorb and absorb and absorb and then squeeze out as desired or needed, bringing your own of it into the world.  This approach usually leads one to take in many influences, and not necessarily “good” ones!  The trick is to try to learn from everything, no?  I was always interested in the connection between music (sound) and language, and have been motivated by many others who have explored that intersection.  When I was a teenager the first poets that altered my world were the English Romantics and British pre-, post- and punk songwriters.  In college, Robert Creeley and William Carlos Williams became models, then beat poetry, dada and other experimental forms.  Like studying at Naropa five years earlier, reading Kamau Brathwaite’s 1991 interview in Hambone was especially instructive as it called into question so many of my suppositions about poetry and made me want to know much more.  This led me to become absorbed in his vastly informed work and entirely new (to me) strands of heterogeneous writing with global orientation.  After a few years of investigation I collaborated with Brathwaite to publish of one of his books (ConVERSations with Nathaniel Mackey, 1999).  Most universities are very conservative, mine was; there are significant limits to what sorts of literature a typical education provides.  It takes a while to get to know what’s out there and is difficult to keep up with it all once you know it because something new always arises in addition to what you’re catching up with!  Since the computer has become a considerable tool, I’ve been less influenced by page-oriented poets and look to those artists that work to one way or another unite multiple forms, whether digitally or not.  I learned a lot from the “New Media Poetry” edition of Visible Language that Eduardo Kac edited, but overall I don’t think any of the cyberpoets are directly influential on me, even though some of the works and philosophies from pioneers in the field have been inspiring.  We do what we do making it up from or approaching it with our individual dispositions.  The one thing that hopefully brings us together is that we’re involved with cultural production rather than cultural destruction.

 

JLA – I received your review on Gilberto Gil's recording Kaya N'Gan Daya. Very good review: was it published somewhere? You have some experiences with music, right? Is music also important in your poetry?

 

CF – I sent the review to Black Renaissance and The Nation but neither publication responded and it is still unpublished.  I am pleased that Gil saw it, found it interesting, and asked a mutual friend if I was black!  It was an excited review, as I was completely moved by the pan- African/American/Caribbean dynamic experience of his concert (in the audience as much as onstage) and this project of making an album of Bob Marley’s songs.  You are lucky to have him as your Minster of Culture!  As mentioned above, I started as a musician—on flute—and though I don’t play every day it is something that’s always present.  Later I learned bass, percussion, and vocals.  I record soundtracks for most of my work and like to play improvisationally in performance.  I listen to many kinds of music but discovering adventurous forms of jazz and then that same spirit in contemporary world music has been a wonderful pursuit.  I admire anyone who can sustain and cultivate sonorous expression, as do the masters of these practices.

 

JLA – Chris, you have done more than I have mentioned up to now. Maybe you want to point out other works of yours.  Do you?

 

CF – We have touched on much of my work in poetry and computers.  The only project major project not taken up that was mentioned a couple of times is Purkinge (and related Albany-based projects).  In 1990 Don Byrd began organizing collaborative writing sessions (known as The Awopbop Groupuscle) for poets in a networked computer lab.  Using the InterChange program on a Daedalus system, countless poems and stories were composed (multi-authored, in real-time) over the next four years.  It was joining this group on a visit to Albany in 1991 that prompted me to want to study there.  I had always written collaboratively with friends, and figured if such unusual projects were afoot with poets involved that I should consider returning to graduate school after a six-year haitus.  At first the group was large, and included many excellent writers.  By the time I got there in 1992, the size of the group had dwindled as some people got their degrees and others lost interest for various reasons.  The even smaller group that was left by 1993 (Sandy Baldwin, Belle Gironda, Eric Douglas and myself) decided to call ourselves Purkinge (the name taken from a Czech physician who studied the brain).  We started publishing our jointly written poems, invented irreverent presentations for academic conferences, wrote “theory” for the work, and performed together.  In the last six months that the group thrived (1994) we abandoned writing and spontaneously composed our works using audio recording equipment.  We had generated so much text together “on the page” (which we closely edited for performance) that we felt we could dispense with the screen and page altogether and it worked very well.  We put a lot of thought into developing our performances, and always included audience participation (interactivity).  This is where I learned that audiences don’t always want to be interactive, though also confirmed that when they are it can be magical.  At our peak we managed to convince a huge audience at a rock’n’roll festival (Lollapalooza) to “jam” along with us and our soundtrack after handing out hundreds of drumsticks we had cut from dowel rods.  We strapped folding metal chairs ourselves and slam-danced which got their attention and riled them up, creating a wild atmosphere and energy in which
to present language.  Baldwin and Douglas left in the fall of 1994 and the project ended until 2000, when Byrd and Derek Owens suggested that we should virtually re-form as “Nine Way Mind” (nine people were involved) for E-Poetry 2001.  We prepared via online chat, writing sessions and posting and exchanging files via the Internet.  I mixed a sixty minute soundtrack for the event, to which we added readings (from text and improvisation), live music/sound, video feedback, two video projections (using video and flash), movement, body painting, and other sensory amplification.  It was over-the-top, a total overload.  Some people really liked it, others didn’t at all.  It was at the end of a long day of panels and readings and we went on too long (though it was the length of the time of the slot we were given).  Since that point the group has dissolved again.  Earlier this month I was reviewing some recordings by Purkinge for a sound poetry cd in Spain, and ended up producing a group of tracks into an EP (extended play or electronic poetry) project.  We’ve talked about getting together to review, organize, and design a cd set of the group’s audio work, and maybe at some point we’ll do the same with the thousands of pages of written texts I have in a box in my basement too.  The ‘Net holds great potential for online group composition, and I’m surprised at the small proportion of that type of work happening these days.  Part of the problem, I am sure, is that everyone is too busy to take on the demands of serious collaboration.  Writing and research, families and other needs fully occupy our time.  These are things that curb my participation in much virtual discourse, despite my interest in it.  I’m speaking for myself but I’m sure others share this experience…

 

JLA – What are your projects for the near future?

 

CF – Once the cyberpoetry book is done and the studio building that I mentioned is ready, I’ve got some ongoing editing projects like Newark Review that deserve more attention, and some old work that I’d like to produce or re-make.  I have most of the equipment I need but I want to prepare for future performances by getting a device that let’s me mix and process sounds live, which I have enjoyed doing in the past.  I’d like to do more work with php or other types of database programming, as I sense that working with programmable databases can be fruitful for the purposes cyberpoetry.  Essentially that’s what all of cyberpoetry is, writers (etc.) working with data and digital processing mechanisms (which encompasses a broad range of applications) to project language or speech of some sort.  I began this arc with MOBY – DICK but haven’t gone anywhere else with it yet since the programming surpasses my capabilities.  I want to make hypervideo pieces using Flash MX but haven’t figured out how to approach or structure them yet:  maybe a combination of videographic and alphanumeric “text” with sound(s).  Eventually I want to do a larger scale project called “Deep State of Poem” that I will need to get funding for.  The idea is to use an Alan Lomax approach to document one thousand poets in the state of New Jersey via digital recordings and images, and write about how communities of poets interact regionally.  I am also thinking about finally editing the proceedings of a weekend symposium I co-organized in 1995 called “Present(ations) of the Future,” publishing the work presented and transcripts of the discussions with extensive reflective commentary.  A few years ago I started a memoir about Ginsberg that would be good to finish also.  In the long term, I hope to concoct a way to bring together all the work (word, image, sound) that I have created into a type of digital entity or archive, an interactive compendium that a reader can navigate.  It will take a long time to put it together.  If I am lucky enough to live another couple of decades and further develop my interface and database design skills perhaps this will happen the way I envision that it could. 

 

Now, why don’t you to talk about your projects and plans for works in the near future…

 

JLA – Since this is a dialogue, and not an interview, let me try to tell you some projects and plans for works in the near future.

Making interviews is a project I want to pursue, for they offer a good panorama of poetry nowadays. I like to talk with and hear ideas from people, by letters, Internet or personally, so this is a way to register different ways of making poetry.

To finish my Ph.D. thesis (3) is the most important work to do soon. Not only to get the title or to complete a phase of my life, but really because it will represent what I think of electronic poetry as a negotiation between poetry and technology in a general sense, from the poet's viewpoint. And after finishing Ph.D. thesis, revise all the studies in order to make an interesting book to be published and to be read by poets interested in improving their poetries.

More creative work is necessary, for since I created some visual poems in E. M. de Melo e Castro's infopoetry course, I started a webdesign course but didn't finish it.  I need to create some electronic poems in order to feel more what I study. There are many softwares and programs to be studied and used for poetic aim. But I need some free time to learn them, and presently I don't have any. Poetry is my passion and I need to study it much more than I have been doing.

I wrote some books that are ready to be printed - Melo e Castro: palavra, visualidade, infopoesia (Melo e Castro: word, visuality, infopoetry) (4) and Ciência, arte e metáfora na poesia de Augusto dos Anjos (Science, Art and Metaphor in Augusto dos Anjos' poetry) (5) -  and that is something I need to do. More dedication to it is necessary.

My page Brazilian Digital Art and Poetry on the Web (http://www.vispo.com/misc/BrazilianDigitalPoetry.htm) needs more research. I need to update URLs and perhaps include some comments, classifications, and make a better design. I want to make it better.

Teaching is an activity I like very much, as well as research and writing. I have plans to be a state university professor, and to research professionally.

 

NOTES

 

(1) A reduced Portuguese translation was published in the printed magazine CONCINNITAS: Revista do Instituto de Artes da UERJ, Rio de Janeiro, jul. 2004, nº 6, p. 68-81.

 

(2) Jorge Luiz Antonio is a poet, writer, researcher, teacher, master and doctor in the Program of Comunnication and Semiotics at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil. He wrote Almeida Júnior através dos tempos (Almeida Junior throughout the time, 1983), Cores, forma, luz, movimento: a poesia de Cesário Verde (Colours, form, light, movement: the Cesario Verde's poetry, 2002), and Ciência, arte e metáfora na poesia de Augusto dos Anjos (Science, art and metaphor in the poetry of Augusto dos Anjos, 2004), as well as many articles in printed and electronic magazines. He produces Brazilian Digital Art and Poetry on the Web (http://www.vispo.com/misc/BrazilianDigitalPoetry.htm) and has made some digital poetries with Fatima Lasay, from the Philippines (E-m[ag]inero in: http://www.digitalmedia.upd.edu.ph/digiteer/gegenort/), and with Regina Célia Pinto, from Brazil (Lago Mar Algo Barco Chuva in  http://www.ociocriativo.com.br/lagoalgo/). His email is jlantonio@uol.com.br

 

(3) This interview was made in 2003, until June, 30th. It took a long time to publish the reduced Portuguese translation in the printed magazine Concinnitas, on July, 2004. My PhD exam was on June, 17th, 2005, and I had the honor to have Chris Funkhouser as one of my readers.

 

(4) This essay was revised on September, 2005, and is going to be published as part of a book treating about the Experimental Portuguese Poetry by Museu de Serralves, in Porto, Portugal, in 2006.

 

(5) It was published in 2004.