hyperlinks in poems: portrait of the artist as a sea pig at dawn

I move slowly
the way I imagine
a sea pig might
move across sand
if there was ever
an upheaval
big enough to heave
one up some one
thousand metres
to the surface
then stickingpink
to everything
the way a new band-aid
collects every scrap
of dust the moment
you drop it.

.

.

Now I’m sure this question has been asked, but it’s too late now for me to trawl around the net and look, as I’m asking it in the next sentence. What do you think about hyperlinks in a poem?

They do bear some likeness to footnotes or ‘in text’ references used in print media, but the internet allows us to go a step further I think. A slightly comical poem like the one above, might benefit from the hyperlink ‘in text’ which then actually becomes part of the poem. For mine, you could probably chuck one in the title too, linking to the James Joyce novel that the name is a (poor) parody of.

Perhaps it could be quite effective when used in the same informative way, but for a poem of  more substance than mine, something with social, emotional or political substance perhaps, like Ferlinghetti’s Tyrannus Nix? for one?

Or would all those hyperlinks just destroy the flow? Would they cement/or close off meanings in a poem?

Would love to hear what you think!

I move slowly

the way I image

a sea pig might

move across sand

if there was ever

an upheaval

big enough to heave

one up some one

thousand metres

to the surface

then sticking

pink to everything

the way a new bandaid

collects every scrap

of dust the moment

you drop it.

18 thoughts on “hyperlinks in poems: portrait of the artist as a sea pig at dawn

  1. Really interesting idea Ash. It’d be interesting to do an entire poem constructed of links. Everything always comes with links as it is, if you think about it. We just download from our own store of associations. You’d be magnifying that process a hundredfold. You might loose focus but you’d gain an ocean of dimension, and maybe that would be the point… or one of many.

    • Wow, an entire poem of links, beefy stuff! The reading into reading into reading & so on!
      I agree, all the intertextual links are usually already there in our minds, huh? But like you say, if we have the links in the poem, it explodes open.
      My concern might still be, if I link to the sea pig and you see a ‘definitive image’ of a sea pig, does that take something away from the reader’s ability to interperet, to ‘see’ the poem?

      Hmmm…hyperlinks, the ‘Resurrection of the Author?’ Wish I could ask Barthes!

      • There’s a free downloadable software from net called Blog Desk which you can use (it gets rid of all those nasty codes we don’t need when posting blogs) and it is easy to put links in. But using wordpress would be ideal – ha,ha – not that I’m biased of course. There is also a way of getting rid of codes while you are in Word (but I am yet to work it out) – does anyone know how to do that. It’s like cleaning your file before posting it.

  2. I think it is a great idea, embrace the new media for all it’s worth. I like the poem, (don’t forget Dylan Thomas also took on Joyce with ‘Portrait of an Artist as a Young Dog’, so you’re in fine company.) I have site preview turned on, so when I hovered over the link, the sea pig jumped at me, a fantastic effect. As far as the sea pig goes, maybe other sea pigs would find it attractive(?)

    • Hi Mark, that’s true – though I bet Thomas did it better than me! I have the site preview on too, it’s quite useful as a reading tool here – by making the image ‘live’ in the poem, rather than having to follow it in a new window etc

      Oh, the poor sea pig. Such an unfortunate looking thing – but I bet you’re right. Other sea pigs must be ok with it

  3. Paul Squires has been hyperlinking for ages to good effect. I think your link is hilarious, especially as it is such a funny picture. I just love this poem and it worked for me even without the link (the first time I read it). Such a visual poem and very funny.

  4. One more thought, I think the hyperlink not only interrupts the flow of the poem, but it interrupts the authorship of the poem too. If the link is part of the text, then so is the person responsible for the material at the end of the link.

  5. Hey Ashley,

    Another great poem… so tight and questioning. With regard to the argument re: hyperlinks, I think Alec is right… everything comes with its own series of links that we the reader makes… and that goes back to the discussion Mark had on his blog about the reading of poetry… how, in my opinion, it is an art in itself. My only thing would be that the poem would not have to live or die on the link… the poem would always have to live outside of/beyond the link; the link providing something outside of what the poem already gives us.

    • Yes, absolutely, we’re full of links as readers, huh? The best part of being a reader too. And I like what you said – the poem must be able to stand by itself.

      And as an aside, some links are quite transient – they can be dead, or be re-directed if a webpage moves etc. That would be unpleasant reading effect.

      Thanks, too, Graham – I pruned this one a few times!

  6. I love humor in poetry when it’s done correctly, and you have nailed it, Ashley. Excellent poem! I’m at lunch now. It’s a dangerous time to read a title that funny, because I nearly choked on my drink:) But the poem also does everything a poem should do. I love stickingpink as one word. The entire piece sings and pops. I love the form.

    Now I’ll stop gushing long enough to answer your question! As a reader, hyperlinks are fine with me. It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the read for me, because I never click on the hyperlink until after I have read the poem a couple of times. I’ve already formed my own mental image, so it feels like I’m getting a new perspective and somewhat different poem when I click the link. I like that.

    I’ve seen some poems with many hyperlinks that are good. Some with many links just seem gimmicky. But you’re right. It depends on the poem and if it can stand alone. This one surely can! Thanks for another good read.

    • Thank you, Julie! As I said to Gabrielle, I often worry about humour in my poetry, it feels so risky. Like a stand-up who just doesn’t have the crowd onside

      And I like the way you’ve read the hyperlinks, Julie – reading the poem first, as a ‘flat’ text, then going back to the links – maintains the unbroken reading flow. Instinctive, I should have realised I do the same!

  7. This very idea just came to me yesterday while working on a poem — so I searched to see if others had come up with the idea, too. I love it. I love the density it could bring to a poem. I second the notion of a poem made entirely of hyperlinks. Have you continued writing poems with links?

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