Sunday, November 17, 2013

ModPo 2013 #67 Seeing Through Poetic Eyes: On Baum's "Card Catalogues" and "Dog Ears"

A screen shot of "Apparitions" from Erica Baum's Card Catalogues

This reminded me of Pound's "In A Station of The Metro." Reading through "Card Catalogues" was such a pleasure for me. I still remember going to the library and looking through card catalogues. I still remember classes where we were taught how to navigate these boxes of subjects and topics. It's a disappearing world...if not already disappeared. That's why "Apparitions" has such a haunting effect. It appears, briefly, like a ghost, in a world that has moved on to Google searches. My children won't experience anymore encountering words the way Erica Baum documents them. 

The process is simple: document the words as seen in card catalogues. But these strange (and uncanny) juxtapositions are created by such arbitrary things as: librarian's choices and the popularity (and therefore the thickness of the stack) between topics and the order in which the words were alphabetized. It takes a poet to recognize these found words floating about in a fading world.  

Screen shot from Erica Baum's "Dog Ears"
I like the metaphor of dog ears as reader engagement (taken from the video discussion), creating physical turns for the "found poem" lines. Once again, Baum documents the analog. I wonder if in the the future, this physical turning of pages will disappear in favor of digital reading? 

Baum's project reminds me that I am surrounded by poetry. I am surrounded by a living language that constantly appears, disappears and reappears. 

Anyway, I could not do this essay without creating my own "found poetry"out of images the way that Erica Baum does. It's too tempting! So, here's my offering. I made a Google search on images for the words "Poetry" and chose the seventh and eighth row from the top and took a screen shot. Here is the result. 

Google search (Images) 2013-11-17 Sunday 10:11 a.m.
I realize that this is a unique result...produced only today (because the algorithm will shift in a matter of hours if not days) and in my geography (different IP addresses might produce different results). The world has offered up this answer to the query "poetry." It is a multimedia "piece" using not only words in comprehensible form but also word clouds and images. My favorite is the last picture at the bottom right: a tree seen through a pane of glass spattered with rain drops seen through a black and white lens. It's evocative and is literally an image (versus an imagistic poem). It is an image in itself but it requires me, the viewer, to make something out of it and connect it to the search query. Centuries of definitions seen side by side on a screen. 

That's how powerful language is. It encompasses all.

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