Because poetry doesn't have to be about stopping by woods on a snowy evening. In Dragon Logic, Stephanie Strickland has taken up Richard Feynman's challenge to poets, grappling with the current situation (and future prospects) of all life enmeshed and intertwined with technology.
Feynman's actual question (in Lectures on Physics) was, "Why do the poets of the present not speak of it?" And what, exactly, did he mean by "it"? If you have time to listen to a podcast, here Strickland and Tony Trigilio discuss how Strickland set to work.
Because you too are a codemaker. The dragon-scales glisten with references to people (and other entities) that Strickland considers "codemakers"; the full list is at the back of the book, just before the final poem, Unsolved Problems. (Just as scientific publications end with suggestions for future work!) Strickland reads at math and science conferences and is a member of The Society for Science Literature and the Arts.
Because you were struck by House of Trust, the generative poem Strickland and Ian Hatcher created in honor of free libraries, harking back to Knowles and Tenney and Gilgamesh. Or one of the (many) pioneering works she has created. For more about each of those, roll over the constellation of dots on her own web site.
Because poetry sizzles through the electronic aether. Much of Strickland's work is "born digital": it could not ever be printed. Where her works (such as Zone : Zero) exist in paper and digital versions, the differences between the versions are illuminating. Because of this and because of her many collaborations, Duke chose to archive her papers and digital work, the first digital writer whose work and correspondence they have collected.
Because Denise Duhamel chose Stephanie as #1 on her list of "advanced women poets" to read if you want to find out where the art of poetry is going. Here's the full list.
The book's elevator pitch:
Dragon Logic wonders…where have we gone…as our face-to-face world threatened from so many directions slips into potentially infinite virtual spaces. The slippage happened suddenly, worldwide, and we don’t know whether it makes us irrelevant, provides an escape from apocalyptic problems, or could be welcomed as a new direction for human life. These poems are where I wrangle this increasingly invisible dragon-in-the-room.
Because you're alive, in this moment. Stephanie is a friend, so I've lost objectivity, and the heck with it. Her work seems to me to arise from the "profound tension of the whole being" that Jacques Ellul once described:
I do not limit myself to describing my feelings with cold objectivity in the manner of a research worker reporting what he sees under a microscope. I am keenly aware that I am myself involved in technological civilization, and that its history is also my own. I may be compared rather with a physician or physicist who is describing a group situation in which he is himself involved. The physician in an epidemic, the physicist exposed to radioactivity: in such situations the mind may remain cold and lucid, and the method objective, but there is inevitably a profound tension of the whole being.
[- Jacques Ellul, from the forward to
Technological Society, revised American Edition]
I have two friends in New York City who are writers named "Stephanie S" - the other is Stephanie Schroeder - and here they are together in September 2012. Venue is the book launch party for Schroeder's memoir, Beautiful Wreck. That's Linda Stein's work in the background.
PS: I first became interested in Stephanie's work because Strickland is one of the best collaborators I've had a chance to observe (and I study collaboration as an a/vocation). Funny/sad: I wanted to help get her work to new readers, so I set up a Tumblr and then lost/forgot the password and had to start over.