A Short History of Electronic Poetry
“Una Piccola Storia della Poesia Elettronica” presents a brief history of digital poetry, from the perspective of the Electronic Poetry Center (EPC), Buffalo, and the international E-Poetry Festivals of digital literature, art, and performance (E-Poetry). The paper engages the discipline from various perspectives, considering its relation to historic contextualizing movements and institutional mechanisms. Typifying the E-Poetry festivals, it is argued, are its exuberant origins: (1) the U.S. small press movements of the later twentieth century; (2) the activities and philosophies of the Electronic Poetry Center; (3) its self-definition as more broadly-conceived than that of hypertext; (4) the pre-existing literary ground of Language Poetry practices; (5) the vibrancy of the as-then-constituted Poetics Program at Buffalo, and; (6) a "symposium of the whole", the continued emerging importance of enthnopoetic localizations to an eventual realization of contemporary poetics. The paper continues by discussing problems of institutional support for the festivals and emphasizing the concept of direct social interaction that was to provide a foundation and enduring energy for the festivals. Finally, strategies are presented for the establishment of a digital literature community, arguing for its basis in local practice, its constitution in accordance with related individual artistic visions, and its ties to artistic practice as opposed to a search for validation by institutional forces. Such characterizing factors, it is concluded, are what determine such a festival's continuing vibrancy -- art practice must emanate from a broader swath of factors -- these considerations take precedence over any notion of media format as predetermining artistic practice.