Poetry News

Another Tool for Discovering your Favorite Letter

By Harriet Staff


While we were wrapping up the overflow of National Poetry Month on Friday, Jacket2 was getting everyone hip to Dan Waber’s Another Tool for Discovering your Favorite Letter, which is "an online interactive poem, a mandala-like, kaleidoscopic hallucinogenic roundabout tilt-a-whirl hurricane pinwheel rabbit's hole sawblade exploration of the letters of the alphabet and the keyboard." Oh, you don't say? Gary Barwin spent time getting stuck in the tool's kaleidoscopic swirls, and he ponders how ATDFL re-focuses our reading attention:

There is a kind of reading/language-centered attention that the work evokes. ...[I]t brings out something inherent in the letters that we suspected—or didn’t suspect--was there. Something that corresponds with our understanding or our appreciation of them. Something to do with their sound, shape, symbolic or associational heft. Isn’t this ‘reading’? Because it’s language-related, specific to these particular glyphs — language mark(er)s? Because it's an exploration of the sign and the signifier, of the operation of language? And because it’s an exploration of how we interact with the forms of language? Which font do we prefer? What is our favorite presentation of S? How much should linger after X? Are we serif satisfied or are we sans teeth sans eyes? These spinning typeshapes evoke a wide range of sensory (visual, tactile, auditory) and even verbal associations. There’s certainly much aesthetic pleasure in the images and in interacting with them. A pleasure in the tech. A glyphouissance. Text evoking images? Hmm. That sounds like that thing I’ve heard that poems sometimes do. So, ATDFL, I’m looking at you (as): text, poem.

Head over to read the rest of Barwin's piece, and be sure to try out the tool yourself. We suggest trying to type out a poem.

Originally Published: May 6th, 2013