by Judith Fitzgerald

Friends, clones and cyberjunkies, lend me your neuro-circuits so that I may show you a wondrous world filled to brim with a nectar guaranteed to induce multi-media nirvana.

Like it or not, we, in our sea of digital flotsam, are bound to witness the arrival of the media-net tsunami heralded by the Krokers (in DATA TRASH, SPASM, DIGITAL DELIRIUM, etc). Even poetry has undergone something of a tentative transformation, both in the medium's content and its new and improved modes of delivery, from on-going online activities to coffee-table collaborative efforts to CD-ROM spoken-word collections accompanied by the more traditional "fetish object formerly known as book."

I & I 'R' US.

Nowhere does the intimate and interacting approach work better than in the gorgeously produced TAMARACK CLEARCUT (Carleton University Press) featuring first-class wordsmith Marianne Bluger turning her hand to haiku in juxtaposition with Rudi Haas's crisp and complementary colour photographs. Bluger's series, stylish and original, range from the uneasy truce between nature and the megalopolis ("thunder/ rattling/ a pane of clouds") to parkinglots and stripmalls of our thoroughly standardised collective consciousness ("stopped cold in housewares/ ambushed/ by emptiness" or "garbage cans/ by moonlight seeming tipsy/ and exuberantly full").

Another venture pushing the poetic envelope issues from a trio of performative artists which cynically calls itself AWOL Love Vibe as a jab at yuppie pseudo-ideals. The Vibe's EXSTATIC ALMANAC (Insomniac) doubles as a nifty calendar and, for an extra ten-spot, includes a CD showcasing the group doing what it does best, orally speaking. The poetry's interesting when it achieves an epigrammatic kind of clarity; but, it does lapse into (perhaps intentional) incoherence, especially with the CD cuts (where lyrics aren't included).

With Joni Mitchell's THE COMPLETE POEMS AND LYRICS (Random House), you gotta wonder what in the heck happened to the circuits of the individual responsible for this utter sham of a book. And, you gotta pray it wasn't Mitchell herself (whose music you absolutely adore). One last squeeze of the lemon or what? Gathering together the singer-songwriter's naked lyrics in a hardbound volume's barely forgivable; but, calling Mitchell's lyrical compositions poetry goes too far. A poet she isn't. Period. Send your flames to BurningUp@heatmail.com :-).



That's right, rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off!

If this sounds all geek to you, you're right; but, chances are, you don't know what you're missing b/cuz you've obviously never dropped by an Internet newsgroup, a network of archived discussion forums scattered throughout cyberspace.

Some estimate there are as many as 50,000 private global online chats taking place at any given time; but, among the interactive set, the most orderly and thoughtful way to communicate with like-minded souls is Usenet's post-and-response method. Got a beef, query or conundrum? Go pick the brains of the folks at misc.writing. Need to show *somebody* your latest brill comp? You'll get the best response from comin' uppers such as yourselves at alt.arts.poetry.comments; but if, like many vets of the Usenet set, you're looking for meaningful conversation of questionable value salted with benevolent sarcasm and peppered with commentaries on THE MAN, his poetry, his lyrics, his novels, his music, his life and his -- what else? -- orgasmic attention to pain and pleasure, you'll most likely find it at alt.music.leonard-cohen, an intense and absorbing forum with close ties, apparently, to LC his own self -- that is, if Jarkko and Rauli Arjatsalo are to be believed.

The Finnish father-and-son team is the keeper of The Leonard Cohen Files (www.leonardcohenfiles), a lavish and lovingly created website erected to honour one of this century's most memorable artists. The site *is* outstanding, one of the five best in the world, imo. And, apparently, its honouree agrees with me. How do I know this? LC sends Jarkko his freshly written poems which Jarkko publishes on-site. Right now, there are a good handful of gems just waiting to be consumed by legions of beautiful losers and other strangers. An especially lovely new poem, "The party was over then too," will be included in LC's soon-to-be-published volume, tentatively titled THE BOOK OF LONGING.

Back at alt.B'losers, the thought-provoking cyber-forum where members call themselves Beautiful Losers, Sandym's offering to smack Lazariuk while Tenacious Tom D's hiccuping his way through a couple of beers for breakfast. CyberGal, Arthurian Arse, Geoff Gompers, Jim Bhoover247, Dazzlin' DAR and BARBARA discuss the merits of "Bird On The Wire" whileThe Little Everything -- that would be the Norwegian Geoffrey -- gets down on his hands and needs and begs a certain Texas Rose to immolate him. Not to be out-sizzled, Martin, Wenslauw and Tom L. take turns explaining why they're currently so pisst about manners, sillinesses and various other points of contention.

Naturally, Ms. Whips & Kisses (A.K.) puts them B'Losers in their places. 'Course, by this time, TennyTomD's belchin' right around the globe and Valorous Val's showing him how it's really done, really done, drinking doubles and such. And then, of course, with Tami and Silkscape (Jane) showing such alt.B'loser potential, Scott and Gus and Gary gotta muscle in to show 'em how it's really done, really done :-). And it *does* go on; but, scattered among the spirited and silly banter are gems of interpretative truth, lovely poems written to, for and because of THE MAN and a wealth of tidbits and nitpicks and nuggets of eternal beauty. So, it's only natural Deke would defend his dating service (http://www.generous.net) as a decent place to meet curvy women. Go figure.

Come lurk, read or risk the flames for your sure-to-be-challenged opinions. It's poetry in the making of which, hints Jarkko, LC thoroughly approves.

Quickie Gloss: Imho (in my humble opinion); b/c (because); lmk (let me know); ttyl (talk to you later); ng (newsgroup); and, foad (ahem, this is a *family* newspaper :-)).

"Poetry Intimate And Interactive" appeared in a slightly edited version in the 1 August 1998 edition of The Toronto Star where Judith Fitzgerald is the poetry columnist.

© 1998-2001 JUDITH FITZGERALD. All Rights Reserved.

Reprinted from Judith Fitzgerald's homepage with permission.
Thanks to Judith for help and everything. ;-)