Digital Writing Month: A Code-Poem Experiment

I saw a challenge over at Digital Writing Month: create a html code poem. Eh? Why not?
Here, first is the poem in raw text:

<p>Yes, I see you. Do you see me?</p>

I’m <strong>
perhaps but not so </strong>
as to <img src=> imagine
how you might be <em> listening </em> to my <i>words</i>
and yet so often fail to <a href=> connect </a> with me</a>
in these shared experiences
in a space that gets <small>smaller all the time</small>.

You may <break> my meaning into <p>aragraphs</p> and then
into words, and then into <small>bytes</small>, and then slowly reduce me <ins> the hidden me</ins> into
<li>echoes of the pst</li>
<sub>while down here</sub>, where I watch you
<sup>towering over me </sup> in my dreams,
I fade
and fall <break> apart.

You leave me <font size=”8″> feeling <font color=”blue”>blue.

And here is the poem, when converted:

Yes, I see you. Do you see me?

perhaps but not so

as to imagine
how you might be listening to my words
and yet so often fail to connect with me
in these shared experiences
in a space that gets smaller all the time.

You maymy meaning into


and then
into words, and then into bytes, and then slowly reduce me the hidden me into

  • emotion
  • thought
  • memory
  • echoes of the pst

while down here, where I watch you
towering over me in my dreams,
I fade
and fall apart.

You leave me feeling blue.

The difficult part was trying to think through what would be invisible and what would be visible in both formats, and how the code commands might inform the poem itself. I’m not sure I completely captured that, to be honest. It’s difficult to toggle meaning between two languages like that. I like it better as raw html. You?

Peace (in the code, in the poem),

What I Write: Behind the Scenes

Today is the third day I am posting about this one single poem, as I lead up to pulling it all together into one multimedia project for tomorrow’s National Day on Writing celebration. The first day, I shared the text of the poem. The next day, I shared a podcast version of the poem. Today, my sharing was inspired by a small line I read from one of the NCTE tweets, suggesting that folks share their writing process along with their writing. Since I had used Google Docs to write my poem, I figured I could give a little tour of the editing and revising that I did while trying to write the piece.

Here, then, is my inside look at writing What I Write: An Archeologist of an Idea

I hope you’ve been writing, too, and that you will be sharing your writing or writing activities tomorrow for the National Day on Writing.

Peace (beneath the poem),


What I Write: The Podcasted Text

Yesterday, as part of the upcoming National Day on Writing, I shared the written text of a poem I wrote to celebrate the theme of “What I Write.” Today, I want to share out the podcast version of the poem. (Tomorrow, I will add another media component and then finish up on Friday with everything pulled together into one large digital composition).

Thanks for listening and I hope you get inspired to write.

Peace (in the poem),


Podcast Poem: Words Under Water (or the Drowned Font)

I’ve been reading the book Just My Type that looks at fonts, typesetting, and the ways that lettering changes our perceptions as writers and as readers. It’s pretty fascinating and I will explore more on another day. But one story stood out — that of a creator of typeface who fell out with his partner, and before he died, he dumped all of the moveable type of the font into the river in order to destroy it rather than give it over to his partner. I wondered about those letters, and those words that might come of them, and this poem came from that.

Words Under Water (or the Drowned Font)

if you will:
words under water –
letters culled together by the ocean’s pull
as heavy metal type, cast off from a London bridge,
re-assembling themselves seamlessly into stories no one will ever hear
or read,
and yet filling up countless pages that get turned by the currents
every single day
in a font lost forever
by the jealousy of its creator
whose only goal as his sunset days ended
was to destroy the words
by drowning.

Peace (in the forgotten font),

Hello, Audioboo (with a response and a podcast poem)

Yesterday, I began the wave goodbye to Cinch, my podcasting platform of choice, and today, I say hello to Audioboo. The two platforms have many similarities, and as I explore Audioboo (on the web, with the app, and with the call-in phone number), I find it might meet the needs of my classroom. My students regularly podcast on our iTouch, and Cinch was our favorite site (for ease of use). I am hoping Audioboo can take its place now that Cinch is closing up shop.

First, here is a podcast that I recorded yesterday, as a comment response to Bill Ferriter’s great piece about whether kids really are motivated by technology (or whether they are more intrigued by the social aspects). I agree with Bill, but argue, too, that we have in fact noticed increased motivation by our struggling writers, in particular, when technology tools are in the mix.

Then, I downloaded the Audioboo app on my iTouch to give it a try. I was writing a poem about the end of summer, and decided to podcast it out.

Here is the poem:

Summer Slips Away

I’m trying not to flinch
as my own kids get antsy about what could only be called
the inevitable march towards the end of summer,
so we’re doing our best to:
tape down the calendar so that August never ends and September never arrives;
cram our days with biking, running, hiking, jumping, playing;
absorb warm summer rays on the baseball fields;
read the last few chapters of the last great beach book;
but still .. but still …
my teacher mind that never really sleeps wakes me up now in the middle of night
with calls of lesson plans, project ideas,
and the purposeful pacing of that first morning just days away now where I will meet
with my students,
and they, with me,
and together we will begin the first steps of our adventure and inquiry
even as the last bits of summer slip away from us
with the leaves already turning yellow from the cool night air.

Peace (in the podcast),
PS – One thing I don’t see with Audioboo is the quick link to download the file as an MP3, which Cinch allowed, and which was very convenient for me to collect student work as audio files. But I found a workaround in the forums. So that’s good.


Poetry Experiment with PowToons

I’m a sucker for trying out new tools, just to see the possibilities. Here, I received an invite to a new site called PowToons that might be another alternative to powerpoint and prezi as a presentation tool. It builds a bit off the idea of a comic interface. I used it to create a short poem, as part of a discussion in another online space around writing.
Peace (in the echoes),

Combining Video Games and Digital Poetry

digital poetry video game
I joined a new writing community at the National Writing Project Connect site around gaming, and this interesting project was already being shared by Elyse Eidman-Aadahl. Here, Jason Nelson merges digital poetry with game design (or maybe anti-game design), creating an odd mix for the reader/player around words, movement, gaming and poetry that feels a bit surreal as you play it.

It’s difficult to explain, but it is one of those sites where I felt my brain sliding in a few different directions as I tried to make sense of the game while trying to make sense of the poem, and also trying to make sense of the combined experiences. To be honest, I am not sure what the game really about, nor what the poem is really about, but that didn’t stop from diving in. I could sense a different kind of experience as the reader/player.

This is how Nelson somewhat explains what he is up to:

Video games are a language, a grammar or linguistics of various texts. The sounds, the movement, the graphics, the rules or lack of rules, everything about a video game is a component of language. …..

A digital poetry game must combine all these elements, strange and interactive stanzas, crossed out and obstructed lines, sounds and texts triggered and lost during the play. Indeed the game interface becomes a road to inhabiting the digital poem, to coaxing the reader/player into living and creating within the game/poetry space.

You really have to experience it to get a sense of it.

Check out game, game, game again and enemy6 (or i made this. you play this. we are enemies.)

And I wondered: how in the world do you design something like that? I suppose the tools for doing so are beyond me at this point in time, but I wonder if there is a way to do a smaller version, something poetic but in game form?

Peace (in the merging of worlds),



Static Interference: a poem about writing interruptus

(I wrote this for Teachers Write, a virtual summer writing camp for teachers run by the author Kate Messner. I’ll write more about the program in the coming days.)

Static Interference

the story’s started …
the plot’s been launched …
the character set in motion
but somehow, in all of this commotion of daily living,
I have left him there, all alone with his narrative,
while I was off doing these other things.

I wonder what he does when I am not around,
and what he thinks about — this character I created —
and whether some wrinkle in my planning goes awry
every time I turn my back on him
to live life outside of the story for a little bit …

He doesn’t have that option –
trapped inside the words that I created from an idea not yet fully formed
and what I don’t want is for my story to become a jail cell –
I want my words to become the key
that breaks him out of all that static interference of uncertainty…

So, forgive me, my friend,
for leaving you there so long without a word to keep you company.
You were never really far from my thoughts.
No, you’ve been here,
sitting on the edge of my ear all week,
whispering secret plans that no one else can hear,
colluding together on the next chapter of story.

– listen to the podcast version of the poem:

Peace (in the poem),