word for/word
issue 6: summer 2004
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James Shivers







Should the poet use a computer to compose a poem? What about using Microsoft Word? The Word editor? Does poetry change if everyone is using the same software? If two different poets use the same screen, software, online services, same font, same printer, same number of pages and words, what makes them so different? Is more than an hour and a half of screen time a day too much for children, as some doctors say? Does the screen time ratio effect poets? Should poets attempt to use all of the page (i.e. the screen's ancestor) most of the page, a little of the page, very little of the page? Should the lines start at the right or the left, bottom or top? Should there be spaces? A certain length of the line? Only lines? Could lines go in more than one direction? Should mathematical formulas be applied to alphabetic technology? Does font size matter? What about type design? Should poets think about using all the fonts at their disposal when writing a poem on a computer? Would anyone notice? Does knowledge of punctuation history grant more or less writing options? How can space be wrong? Is grammar ethical? If grammar has changed in English, and will change again, are the standards, standards? Absolutes? What is the difference between those who care and those who do not care about grammatical standards? When writing a word, should all the letters count? Or, are letters only for words? Can letters be words? If you use C, See, Sea, c, see, sea, c-e, as semantic-phonetic-graphic realities, does this change how we right? Write? What about lyrics in pop music, such as All 4 U? Should poetry consider all sound-letter combinations? Would any one notice if you did? Who would publish poetry that asked all these questions? Should poets play with language like politicians, or advertisers, or painters, or philosophers? Should poets watch TV? How do the two letters, T, and V, make a reference to a box so many stare at during each day? Should the TV be left on, but muted for the poet? Should the poet love the vision box of the people? Is there such a thing as television love? If our lives are of limited duration, how should we spend our time? Can one poet like another poet? Can one poet feel intimidated by another poet? Can two poets have great sex together? Do they need to be the same kind of poet? Do these feelings matter when writing a poem on a different kind of screen? Should poets know how books are made? Would this knowledge effect their writing? Would any knowledge affect their writing? What kind? Technical? Grammatical? Aesthetic? Athletic? Do poets know anything? Are the feelings of poets better, worse, or the same as dog technicians or the waitress at the last restaurant you visited? How would you know? Does riding a local bus everyday change the way you would write a poem? Does driving a car? What about being driven? Has any poet ever had a chauffer? Would it give the poet more time to write? Do people think it is weird to be a poet? When I write poet, what do you think about? Do you know a poet? Does the poet ever talk about writing? Is it interesting, boring, repetitive, arcane? Should poets own a dictionary now that OED is online? Should poets look for words? Should poets use words as memory or as invention? Does the history of rhetoric count? Does the history of the pencil count? What about the paper clip? Have you ever used a paper clip? Do you know where it comes from? If not, has this lack of knowledge affected your view of poetry, or the last poem you wrote, if you are a poet? Do poets ask questions? Should they? If so, how many? Or, do they just give answers? Fill in the blanks? Do blanks on the page matter?




from other Rooms



Kevin Volans, 'White Man Sleeps', IV


                      3 days,
walk way, long, a
stone, flat path,
quite world, quiet past, strength of step, step, one, two
over, no fear, or regrets, a finished job,

                              moving onward
moving, satisfied, move
                     a maturation pro
                     cess, stage, com
saying good, bye, good, saying, say sa sa ey ing, farewell,

new demands await

leaving, again, relearning, knowing the right, the left, forgetting shackles,
forgetting, for
limitations, walking
speaking freely, free

                  a tall glass of water, a joyful l




Seascape (Sea-Sea)
Seestück (See-See)

            1970 Gerhard Richter


Open, gray, wave, space [O, stay!]
movement, sound chop, chop

departure, de facto, canvas
Slosh, ling, out of touch

just over, not clear, clear
or sharp, translating lay-space

viewer, where--where. Boat bound
Riding, maintaining, with Jonah
O, see, see, sky covered
hidden stars, hidden colors, hidden lots

for the Life, ear, sound-
scape, sea-scape, scape-goat

room bound, [O, stay!] lay space
Mo, ma see, sea, see, C





James Shivers is the Poetry editor for the international online literary magazine, Szirine. His critical and creative work has appeared in Oxford Poetry Review, Washington Review, Artkrush, American Book Review, and Cahier (Holland). His work has also appeared on All Things Considered, and been featured on BBC radio and NPR. He has written the first critical study of the American poet Charles Bernstein, Poets as Inventors: Charles Bernstein and the Possibilities of American Poetry , and his first novel, J4 is currently under submission.

               /    o
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