Nothing New Under the Sun - A New Sun Each Day

Joel Felix

The scope of these essays include the honeycombed structure of contemporary poetics, that stack of cells of poetic demography which poses as multiplicity but, like the storehouse of the bee, locks into hexagons from the weight of the grid. It may be no stretch to link those hexagonal cells to the franchise expansionism of say, US pizza chains, whose aggressive-growth strategy dictates the exact delineation of space within a given area that the potential consumer is willing to travel for a pizza. That space is hexagonal as efficiency dictates. The honeycomb before us reminds that we are most certainly numerous, to bow to George Oppen, and poems never more so. But it may be impossible to tell just now whether "poetics" is defined by markets or poets, by poetry "zones" or genre poetry as a product of situated identity, or by Helen Vendler.

To mark ebr's foray into poetics, we've agglutinated an abbreviated Quo Vadis of contemporary praxis, though the direction implicit to vadere should not default to the linear. Even those contributors heralding the "new" of computer/electronic poetry recognize that proto-computer poetry has already been with us; computational language machines have been in poetry since the throws of Mallarmé's dice, chance his computer. Ezra Pound's (and other's) dictum "make it new" is a self-perpetuating charge not unlike a virus, and it might be argued that the "new" has a newly accelerated half-life. But is poetic history producing as many new models as the (European/North and South American) culture it responds to, or chooses to ignore?

This issue presents essays on subjects as diverse as Oulipan translation poetics to the musicality of Greek to holographic poetry to hypertextual poetics and practice, to design of poetry CD-ROMS. Joe Amato takes Zukofsky's "A" into new theoretical territory, offering a look at that poem through the lens of "social ecology." A very different approach is offered in Michael O'Leary's review of Timothy Bahti's Ends of the Lyric, where O'Leary compares the two signs that Bahti erects for the structure of the lyric mode, the sign for infinity or the sign of the "Q" - a figure for a loop that "leaps out of itself." Also in this issue, Stephanie Strickland and Robert Kendall , both authors of Eastgate Systems hypertext poems, consider the interface of the electronic on the poetic, an interface performed in Wendy Battin's "Schoen Tell." And ebr proudly presents its first hypertextual essay with John Cayley's "Why Did People Make Things Like This?". Cayley also reviews the major hypertext conference of 1997, and one of hypertext's emerging critics, Chris Funkhouser, reviews Charles O. Hartman's Virtual Muse and the Visible Language anthology, edited by Eduardo Kac whose "Key Concepts of Holopoetry" is also presented in this issue. ebr doubles the funk by presenting his conversation with Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris about their Poems For The Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern & Postmodern Poetry.

As a core sample of poetics, this collection of essays is but a beginning. With a view to future issues, I encourage our readers to check this space in late september, when ebr6 will include new works from Charles Bernstein and Pierre Joris.

Joel Felix has planted his own poetry as variously as possible in this media ecology; at this writing his long poem a Run Thru the Dictionary is still available as an artist's book edition from LVNG Magazine.

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