I was invited by the wonderful poet and teacher Kelly Moffett (http://www.kellymoffett.com/) to blog – somewhere, anywhere I wanted – and to tag the post as “the next big thing.” This is a mobile series of self-interviews that follow the nbt tag. I like the idea, so I’ve responded to the pre-set interview questions below. I’m writing about two books I’ve edited – go out and read them!
Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?
A: I’m writing here about two books I’ve edited, containing writing by others, though with introductions by me. So, really these other authors are the next big things, not me. Both are published by the Computing Literature book series – I am the publisher and the WVU press is distributor. (Check out the series and submit an manuscript.) The first is Writing Under by Alan Sondheim, which appeared in September 2012, and the second is Po.Ex: Essays from Portugal on Cyberliterature and Intermedia, co-edited with the great poet and scholar Rui Torres, due to appear in September 2013, with writing by Ana Hatherly, E. M. de Melo e Castro, and Pedro Barbosa. For the first, the idea came from discussion with Alan. If you don’t know his work, you must track it down – read Writing Under. He’s been working on the intense and wild edge of writing with the computer for longer than anyone. He’s published many books but this is the first that focuses on his writings on and about writing. I liked the title “writing under,” which suggests under the influence, under the sign of, under constraint, and so on. The idea for Po.Ex was from a conversation with Rui in a café in Porto on the banks of the Duoro, where we decided to publish a book building on Rui’s amazing project that’s archiving and presenting Portuguese experimental poetry. Portugal was a bit hidden from the poetic radar for a while, in part due to the dictatorship that only ended in the 1970s, but really it’s the most radical, exciting, and playful poetry community. They were experimenting with visual and programmed poetry long before anyone else. So, I saw this book as an alternative and really compelling factor driving global poetics, one that is persuasive and powerful in ways that we in the USA may not realize but must recognize.
Q: What genre does your book fall under?
A: Writing Under falls under no genre. I know Alan would agree. The writing moves from philosophy to randomly generated text, with lyrical lines in there as well. There’s no way to sort it or categorize it. Writing Under forces us to recognize that genres are always falling under, collapsing on themselves. Po.Ex is easier, I suppose: it’s a work of criticism, but it includes poems, many many poems. The poems are examples and appendices. I suppose it’s an archive, a dossier.
Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A: Language – its sounds and sights, its oddness and conceptuality – is the main character in both books. Perhaps Harpo Marx would play the character “language.” The authors in Po.Ex are all elderly Portugese experimental poets, so I’ll suggest that Chloe Grace Moretz play Ana Hatherly, young Macaulay Culkin play E. M. Melo e Castro, and Pedro Barbosa play himself since he is from outer space. As to Alan Sondheim … I think Dustin Hoffman will play him.
Q: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
A: As I mentioned, both books are published by Computing Literature, a series created by the Center for Literary Computing at West Virginia University and in a distribution agreement with the West Virginia University Press.
Q: How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A: Well, both books are both recent and ancient. Alan’s includes texts dating back as far as 1994 and as recent as 2011. The Po.Ex texts are almost all from the period between 1970 and 1995. The introductions to both books are new, and of course this is the first time the writings appear in a book.
Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A: Oh, the authors of the books inspired me. But also the computer screen inspired me. So much exciting writing is taking place through the computer, through this extendor and inventor of creativity. What could be better than bringing this computer-driven –created –influenced –etc work to people?
Q: What else about this book might pique the reader’s interest?
A: Both books are available in various e-versions, including Kindle. I suppose that might pique your interest, but look: Sondheim is the most intense, exhausting, exhilarating writer out there, and Po.Ex is a beautiful and unexplored yet perfect avenue for that transition from the page to screen. Come be piqued.