Thursday, March 19, 2009

Word by word

The Academy of American Poets have been experimenting with ways of reading poems on line. This is what they say: has partnered with TextTelevision to offer TextFlows, an alternative approach to reading and experiencing poetry. By converting text dynamically into Flash animation, poems are revealed phrase by phrase through motion and light, and at a pace controlled by the reader. The simplified words and crisp motion fixes one's attention on the subtleties of language, increasing involvement, engagement, and understanding.

I've never forgot reading some research that showed how people reading too long a text on line ended up with the same queasy sensation as sea-sickness, so I suppose this makes sense. When I tried it with one of my favourite poems, W. B. Yeats's Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven though, I found I was going back to the whole poem printed above the animated version, keen to read on quickly rather than just take what was in front of me. Increasing the animation to full window size and just having that on screen made all the difference, forcing me to slow down. And yes, I did relish it more.

But better still, here is a recording of Yeats reading another of his poems, The Isle of Innesfree, at exactly the right speed ... here. Magic. Absolutely magic.

1 comment:

Douglas Bruton said...

I recently used this poem as the subject of a flash fiction piece for the 'Greyling Bay' project. Watch out for my fun piece called 'Cor-Blimey Corinne'.

I have loved this poem since I was a boy.