For my midterm I want to make a web app that is a poetry writing activity. It will be an iteration of a project I have been working on throughout my time at ITP. I have been working on developing digital poetry writing activities that are extensions of the poetry writing activities I have previously done as part of my work at Lutheran Family Health Centers, Project SAFE {{link}}, and as a professor in the English department at University of California Santa Barbara. I have been working with an activity called “I am from.”

# Here is an outline of the activity

Step 1- Generating the Poem

Activity for ITP Students

Check in

One space that has shaped you and one space that you shape
Watch the throne- watch 1 or 2 poetry videos for inspiration and to prepare to bring forth the spirits, ancestors, and ourselves.

I am from
Collaborative Surrealist Language Event (I) (for two or more people): One person writes down a question without showing it to anyone else; simultaneously, another person writes down an answer; poem is formed by a series of these questions and answers. Alternate form: One question: multiple answers; vice versa.

. For example: ” What is the pink elephant? The reason why it is so cold this week.// Is the door locked? / I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.”

I am from writing activity

I am
I am from
I am made of
I am shedding
I am becoming

Quick go around and share

As people are sharing think about what you identify with. Choose one other persons line that you identify with.

Quick re-write (choose or re-write just one line for each prompt)

Recording (how will this work?)

This is the tricky part. I am thinking get in groups of three, and record each other ‘performing’ your poems. Look for synchronous parts of your writing and record each other saying parts of your poem together as well.


# And here is a video of a previous digital version I have made

30for30animatedFormPoetry from Daniel Silber-Baker on Vimeo.

# There are two areas I want to focus on for the extension of this project in networked media.

1) Creating a backend where poems that people create can be stored
– accessed in a gallery
– exported to the users local machine
– drawn upon within the activity itself as examples and to create group poems

2)I want to create a digital experience that is imbued with the spirit that exists within the experience and the poetic productions of the in person {{better-language?}} poetry workshops I have run in the past.

I have been struggling to do this digitally {{more on why?}}, especially with the free write sections, where participants (users?) respond to each of the prompts

I am from
I am made of
I am shedding
I am becoming

In person, intentional facilitation can create a safe and exciting environment, one in which even the person who considers themselves the least poetic person possible, would be called to participate in the experience, and I have found once giving in to participating, people find it logical to try and openly respond to each prompt in a meaningful way. For more of an idea of what kind of spaces I am drawing from in the physical, in-person world, you can see the syllabus for the ‘Poetics of Struggle,’ class I taught at UCSB. {{link}}

Despite my best efforts, I have found html forms and their input boxes and text areas incredibly difficult to make effective messengers of my facilitative message of safety and excitement. From my own usage and feedback from user testing, the generating of poetic material through html forms always remain just that, a form. The process of responding to poetic prompts, collectively in a room with other people, facilitated intentionally by a guide is difficult to transcribe into the programmatic and UI/UX paradigms of html standards. Despite some amazing work by developers in dressing forms up with css, in truly marvelous ways, the form remains a form, and the user experience remains far more similar to filling out any other form on the internet, then the in person feeling of responding to the prompts. (I believe this is true whether typing on a computer device or writing in a notebook-although these are not the same experiences even if done next to one another in the same room).

So for my networked media final I want to experiment with ways to better imbue the digital poetry activity with the intentional facilitation of in person spaces. I want to experiment with how to reproduce the spirit of poetic writing/generation activities in a digital environment by imagining a new, more intentionally facilitated programmatically and with design, process for users to to generate ideas in response to prompts and produce data from that to be used in the creation of poetic material. I want to avoid replicating the form and instead reproduce the spirit of the poetry activity.

I made a quick sketch of the first idea I want to pursue on this path.

IMG 4076

I want to try building on my previous experiments using cytoscape.js {{Link}} to create an interactive, multi-level, environment for users to respond to prompts.

Here is a previous example of cytoscape to play with to give an idea of what my drawing above is referencing.

And here is an iteration using cytoscape to start and create the user interaction for the I am from poem

I have developed the idea a little further, or perhaps a little askew. Here is an image of my mapping out the possible paths for this midterm.

IMG 4088