December Snakeskin is online, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the month when I decided, just for fun, to make use of a tine amount of webspace that I had been offered. You can read the story in the interview reprinted in this month’s magazine.
In the interview we talk about e-chapbooks. Snakeskin hasn’t printed many of these recently, so perhaps it’s time to revive the practice. If you’ve ten or so poems on a theme, maybe, that would fit neatly into a smart little pdf file that readers could print off to read at leisure – let me know.
The interview harks back to the ambitions of the early days of the internet (and some of us are ancient enough to remember when there wasn’t a single advert in the whole of cyberspace…) Some of these ambitions have been realised, others not.
To remind us all of how once we had a sense of the medium’s possibilities, here’s Ken Payne’s Manifesto for the Internet Poem, from 1997:
MANIFESTO FOR THE INTERNET POEM
Because the Bit moves through a virtual space, across beleaguered continents and doomed regimes, unabashed by the sniper’s ballistic veto, the reprimand of cannon, and the armoured tread of tanks, because the Bit moves across seas unhindered by the submarine and the belligerent battleship, over the walls and past the fences of the snide censors, the moral Mommas and the mad dictators, I assert the ubiquity of the Internet Poem.
The tyrant tore and torched the texts.
Because the Bit can replicate, because the Bit can be stored and multiplied, because the Bit can be printed on paper or T-Shirts, because the bit can be carried on diskette in the back pocket of a pair of democratic Levis or the jacket pocket of a Saville Row suit, because a purse or handbag can hold an archive of epics, I assert the continuity of the Internet Poem.
On magnetic media, millions of minds.
Because the Bit is not in the gift of Academics, Editors, Critics and Pundits, because the Bit is unabashed before the terminals of the mighty and unashamed on the laptops of the low, because the Bit is created at the screens of the outcast, the unconventional, the dreamers, the dispossessed and the exiled, because the Bit is prolific, precise and passionate, I assert the quality of the Internet Poem.
Postings of passion were placed on the server.
Because, by the grace of the Bit, reader and writer are drawn into a closer community, because the Bit enables the creation of new types of verse and new ways of meaning, because the Bit unites the artist, the poet and the musician, I assert the superiority of the Internet Poem.
The landscape is lively with electric laureates.