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KENZIE ALLEN

Digital creative writing and self-publishing pt. 1

When meditating on some of our recent readings for my Computers & Writing class this week, and working on a captionfail assignment, I came up against some familiar but recently acquired anxieties and concerns about digital publishing and blog-keeping.

Our assignment was to record a video, run it through YouTube’s automatic closed captioning, and then the results should be hilarious or tragic (illustrating the issues with retrofitting accessibility). When coming at this assignment from an academic perspective, posting the results publicly was easier (though not quite as easy as posting my tragic attempts at karaoke used to be). I read a Will Alexander prose-poem (?) called On Anti-Biography, and the results proved to be even stranger (though since the original was so playful with language it was a bit like kaleidoscoping an existing kaleidoscope).

When I later decided to input one of my own poems in the captionfail method I not only had a difficult time caption/failing the poem, I had a hard time putting the video through YouTube’s upload at all. In the academic world I might not be concerned about putting drafts or final representations of work up online, since for my work to be considered ‘published’ it would need to be peer-reviewed.

But since in the poetry world our works are considered published if made available for wide circulation, even/especially in an online format (including, to some extent, a blog), I was now hesitant not only to make it public (exclude that it is a more personal subject matter and I’m not sure if I’m ready to face any community/cultural fallout), but I was hesitant to put my work into a data format that could be retained, by YouTube.

I recognize the sudden paranoia of this. So many poets are now publishing on YouTube amazing multimodal works (Steve Roggenbuck, anyone?), and videos of readings are common. Still, I’m about to submit for the Hopwood contests here in my graduate program, and I am just beginning to submit my works to the literary magazines and contests that will see my work published in the format that will help my resume and my book and career prospects, a kind of peer review for the poetry world. There are benefits to self-publishing, there are benefits to not doing so. Possibly if I begin to compose, from the ground up, in a way that requires a format not readily available in those literary magazines and journals (though so many are moving to digital formats), or in a way that requires viral and participatory involvement (one of my favorite waves of multimodal composing), I will work harder on overcoming these anxieties to take advantage of those benefits. :D