As part of my investigation into the relationship between poetry and its media, I have been developing a few creative projects that explore how the physical materiality of the poem can be used. Taking inspiration from my recent research into artists’ books, these rough experiments attempt to re-consider the role of the material object in reading, much in the same way that my digital work has done so far.
Idle hands: origami poems
I have been writing a set of poems that are intended to be folded into various origami shapes. I wanted to explore the process of folding the paper and how this shapes both the writing and reading of the text. Presented to the reader as a flat piece of paper, the poem is then read again as it is being folded, and once more when complete. The reader encounters the lines differently each time, and with different modes of attention: the reading experience is at its most ‘traditional’ when the paper is still a flat template, but then as the reader builds the piece, the words are backgrounded – still present, but considered alongside the task of creating the model. Lastly, with the origami figure complete, the text is then read together with the physical form it has taken on.
One poem, ‘rabbit’, is available here. There are two versions: one with guide lines for folding and another without. Both include a link to step-by-step instructions for creating an origami rabbit.
This project involves making a hand-made book within a set time-limit, using only materials found within a particular room. I let myself off easy with my first attempt, using my study to test the idea, and made a book out of printer paper and bulldog clips. Other attempts around my house included a ‘kitchen book’ made out of greaseproof paper, aluminium foil and parts of a cereal box.
Inspired by Johanna Drucker’s notion of the book as a performative space, my aim is to continue this project further in other locations, using the act of making a book to embed features of a location materially in one ‘bound’ object that summarises and enacts experience of the room it comes from.
In an attempt to cross over more explicitly with the digital aspects of my research, I wrote some work that is presented through ‘keyboard books’ – small pamphlets with a hole cut through the middle, in which sits a key from a computer keyboard. The letter on the key then features on every page of the book, influencing and to some extent constraining the content that can be written there. Using the physical components of a digital device within my writing in this way, I hope to rework my previous research into the influence of digital materiality from a new angle.