For my final project, I’m torn between two possible topics (or possibly two sides of a combinable topic).
1. I want to experiment with the presentation of text. I want to conduct a series of poetic experiments that explore the idea of what a page is and can do. I want to, for example, see what happens if I write a poem that’s meant to appear on transparencies, so that both sides of several pages are visible at the same time—how would this both enrich and complicate/problematize the idea of the page and the poem. What if I write each word or line of a poem on index cards, which the reader is then required to put in order for herself? What would adding illustrations do to a poem? It’s similar, in a way, to Micah’s project, except that I’m less interested in the concept of the book than I am in the construction of the page.
In terms of the final paper, after conducting and documenting the experiments, I will write a critical preface to the work itself, both discussing the ideas I used in the making of the creative project and tracing the philosophical concepts involved, using several essays from A Book of the Book, particularly Michael Davidson’s “The Material Page,” the Sieburth essay on Mallarme (and possibly some outside reading of Mallarme as well).
2. I’m also interested in the intersection of authorship and chance. I want to write or otherwise generate a series of poems through methods of chance (dice, counting, cutting, the I Ching, etc) while documenting my experience of being, more or less, out of control of my own poems. I will most likely do some form of editing on them afterward to see what I can make of the raw material of the chance-made poem, also documenting the changes and how the two texts intersect and diverge.
The critical preface, in this case, would include the essays of Burroughs and Mac Low and others we read for class, and also possibly the work of Tristan Tzara. I want to think about, in this case, how we define the question of authorship (Howe’s essay on Dickenson might help here too).
The first one seems like more fun, but the second more practical. Can the two be combined?