Node Poems

Of all the genres and mediums the Internet has been blamed for ruining, poetry is not one of them. It’s not surprising that poetry is flourishing online: it’s (usually) short and lends itself well to the types of multimedia experiences the Web offers.

The Poetry through the Ages project uses a mind mapping technology to encourage readers to branch out, as it were, to new forms of poetry. The site provides a good general introduction into the history of poetry from the ancient Greeks through the Beats–but skipping Modernism altogether. There are detailed explanations of its forms, both famous and obscure. One page, for instance, traces the development of Pindaric and Horatian styles of ode writing from Sappho down to Pierre de Ronsard through Jonson and Dryden to Keats.

Not content with simply remixing the history of poetry, the PTTA project also wants to use its mind mapping technology, called SpicyNodes, to create a whole new poetic form they call node poetry. Node poems

mediate a new interaction between readers and writers by
letting readers permeate texts as they become active participants in
shaping the direction of the language. Writers, in turn, can develop
new strategies to give their audience exciting and engaging
opportunities to navigate their work.

The form takes some getting used to. There are no stanzas and rhyme schemes don’t really hold together, but it’s a more elegant form than a lot of hypertext fiction examples I’ve read, and I liked how the form focused on how lines are constructed in isolation and in relation to each other.

And make sure to view the maps in full screen mode.


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