What exactly is a poetry experience?
by Arthur Klepchukov
Roughly a week ago I submitted my first collection of poetry to Apple’s iBookstore. As I eagerly check the submission site for the book’s status several times a day, I reflect on what brought me here. How does someone who never imagined releasing anything other than a traditionally published novel end up self-publishing an interactive collection of poetry, exclusively for the iPad? Why poetry? Why just the iPad? What exactly is this poetry experience I’ve been pushing since I started the project?
I have a confession to make. I hardly read any poetry. I’m not going to come up with a convincing excuse. I’m just going to shake things up and make more people read more poetry, period. How? The iPad. Yes, the same iPad full of endless videos, high definition games, elegant news readers, and a thousand other distractions. Of all the apps that raced through your mind when I mentioned the iPad, I doubt iBooks was one of them. But I’ll change that too.
Picture a poem. What did you see? I bet it looked like black text on a white page, left-aligned, and in a serif font almost indistinguishable from Times New Roman. Quite the boring default for 2012, isn’t it? I can peek in on the other corner of the globe through a device no bigger than a deck of cards but my poetry looks like a relic of the Dark Ages. Notice I haven’t said a word about the content or quality of this imagined poem. We’re only at the surface but that’s as far as some get. Can you really blame them when they know what to expect – from trite rhymes to obscure references to words that individually make sense but combine into something psychedelically confusing? Readers are complacent with these cliches. Writers are failing to surprise them.
Now that’s surprising. When’s the last time you saw a poem that looked like the one above? Does anything have to be aligned? Can’t the burning image that the writer sees leap out and demand to be seen? And do you see that small, white triangle that looks like a play button in the upper left? That’s my poem, exactly as it was meant to sound. And it’s all possible today, in iBooks on any iPad. This is the beginning of a poetry experience.
Update: blinks of awe is now available here!