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Aalborg Universitet
Dialogues on Poetry
Mediatization and New Sensibilities
Ringgaard, Dan; Kjerkegaard, Stefan
Publication date:
2017
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Citation for published version (APA):
Ringgaard, D., & Kjerkegaard, S. (Eds.) (2017). Dialogues on Poetry: Mediatization and New Sensibilities. (1.
ed.) Aalborg: Aalborg Universitetsforlag. Studies in Contemporary Poetry / Studier i samtidslyrik, No. 4
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DIALOGUES ON
Mediatization
and
New Sensibilities
Edited by
Stefan Kjerkegaard
Dan Ringgaard

DIALOGUES ON
Mediatization
and
New Sensibilities
Edited by
Stefan Kjerkegaard
Dan Ringgaard

DIALOGUES ON POETRY
Mediatization and New Sensibilities
Redaktører Stefan Kjerkegaard og Dan Ringgaard
OA-udgave
© Redaktørerne og Aalborg Universitetsforlag, 2017
4. udgivelse i serien 
Studies in Contemporary Poetry / Studier i samtidslyrik
Serieredaktører:
Professor dr.phil. Peter Stein Larsen, Aalborg Universitet
Lektor ph.d. Louise Mønster, Aalborg Universitet
Professor dr. phil. Dan Ringgaard, Aarhus Universitet
1. amanuensis ph.d. Hans Kristian Rustad, Universitetet i Oslo
Grafisk tilrettelæggelse: akila v/ Kirsten Bach Larsen
ISBN: 978-87-7112-650-1
ISSN: 2445-7086
Udgivet af:
Aalborg Universitetsforlag
Skjernvej 4A, 2. sal
9220 Aalborg Ø
T 99407140
aauf@forlag.aau.dk
forlag.aau.dk
Udgivelsen finansieret af bevilling fra FKK til projektet ”Contemporary Poetry between 
Genres, Art Forms, and Media”. 
Alle rettigheder forbeholdes. Mekanisk, fotografisk eller anden gen givelse af eller kopiering 
fra denne bog eller dele heraf er kun tilladt i overensstemmelse med overenskomst mellem 
Undervisningsmi nisteriet og Copy-Dan. Enhver anden udnyttelse er uden forlagets skrift-
lige samtykke forbudt ifølge gældende dansk lov om ophavsret. Undtaget herfra er korte 
uddrag til brug i anmeldelser.

CONTENT

Dan Ringgaard and Stefan Kjerkegaard 
 
DIALOGUES ON POETRY
 
Mediatization and New Sensibilities
WORD, PICTURE, SOUND
13
 
Andrew Michael Roberts
 
 
THE EFFACED POETIC TEXT IN  
 
 
INTERMEDIAL ART WORKS
39  Claudia Benthien
 ‘AUDIO-POETRY’
 
Lyrical Speech in the Digital Age
ARCHEOLOGIES OF POETRY
63  Rebecca Beasley
 
MIGRATION, CIRCULATION, DRIFT: 
 
TRANSLATION AND VISUALITY IN MODERNIST  
AND CONTEMPORARY POETRY
89  Peter Dayan
 
ON THE DANGER OF PUSHING POETRY  
 
TOWARDS MUSIC
 
The successes and failures of Hugo Ball, René Ghil,    
 
and Stéphane Mallarmé

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
111  Hans Kristian Rustad
 
WHAT ALSO COULD POETRY BE?
 
Technogenesis in Johannes Heldén’s Evolution
127  Matti Kangaskoski
 
FROM PRESSING THE BUTTON TO CLICKING  
 
THE MOUSE
 
The Shift from Static to Dynamic Media
AMBIENT SENSITIVITIES
149  Anne Karhio
 
FROM PAGE TO SCREEN
 
The Poetry Project and the poetics of landscape
171  Michael Karlsson Pedersen
 
FIRM GRIPS AND LIGHT TOUCHES
 
An essay on things and halfthings in postwar German nature poetry
CULTURAL CRITIQUE
191  Caspar Eric Christensen and Mikkel Krause Frantzen
 
I AM A LITTLE BIT MORE DEPRESSED THAN YOU ARE
 
Tao Lin as an example of a contemporary poetry of depression and 
other negative feelings
213  Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen
 
#.PLS. .SELECT. .UR. .CHAR[R(I)ED.H]AC(K)TOR.#
 
Agency, interpellation and address in digital poetry

GENRE AND FORM
235  Louise Mønster
 
CONTEMPORARY POETRY AND THE   
 
QUESTION OF GENRE
 
With a Special View to a Danish Context
257  Ole Karlsen
 
«BARE LERKENE KAN LESE MORGENEN / DEN BLÅ 
BOKSTAVEN / I EN ALTFOR STOR RESEPT»
 
Norwegian poetry 2000 – 2012 from a form perspective 
281  Peter Stein Larsen
 
WHY CAN POETRY MATTER?
 
Or: Poetry as an Ideal – or an Expanding Genre
BEYOND LITERATURE
297  James Day
 
ART WRITING HUNG OUT TO DRY
313  Dan Ringgaard
 
POETRY IS THE SIGNIFICANT FLOW OF LIFE
 
Poetry as a Trans-Medial Concept in the Work of Filmmaker    
and Poet Jørgen Leth
FROM A POET’S POINT OF VIEW
329  Morten Søndergaard
 
A WORDPHARMACIST’S CONFESSIONS
337  Juliana Spahr
 
CONTEMPORARY US POETRY AND ITS NATIONALISMS
369  CONTRIBUTORS

7
DIALOGUES ON POETRY
Mediatization and New Sensibilities 
DAN RINGGAARD AND STEFAN KJERKEGAARD
Introduction
Literature in a strictly modern sense can be seen as the product of a meet-
ing between writing, the printed book and European modernity. Particu-
lar modes of reading and writing have developed from this triangulation, 
along with the modern genres we today identify with literature, including 
the genre of lyric poetry. After the Gutenberg revolution the medium and 
materiality of literature to some extent became invisible because it became 
self-evident. In the past, literary scholars continually asked what literary 
works contained, but rarely asked what it was that contained literary works. 
This is no longer so. The two media revolutions that followed the invention 
of the printed press, the emergence of first analogue media like the gramo-
phone, film and typewriter, and then the network-based digital media, have 
put this marriage of literature with books and writing into question. It is 
no longer self-evident that literature is something written or published in 
books. Or to put it in another way: a process of mediatization has made lit-
erature acutely conscious of its relation to its own media. In fact, the mod-
ernist emphasis on language, on writing and finally on the book itself that 
we have witnessed in the wake of the analogue and the digital revolution 
can be interpreted as a rising awareness of literature´s relation to different 
kinds of media and matter.
This development not only points to a range of opportunities that 
contemporary literature now investigates, exploits and criticizes, but also 
makes it clear that literature and the idea of the literary work has always 
been shaped by its medium, adding a new dimension to literary theory, 
analysis and history. This is one point worth making within the framework 
of this book: that the investigation of the literary present, of what happens 
to the words of literature in general and those of poetry in particular as 
they leave the book and venture off into a digital informed reality, must 
be accompanied by a renewed interest in the media history of literature.

8
Another general point that could be mentioned is the relation between 
the new sensibilities that is played out in a digitally informed reality and 
the impact that these sensibilities have on literature in books. Studying the 
relation of literature and media in a contemporary perspective is not just a 
question of studying electronic literature (for instance), but requires a study 
of the influence that new media and new technologies have on the huge 
majority of literature that is still written and published in books.
Once we frame our perspective like this, it becomes obvious that the term 
new sensibilities cannot be reduced to those created by media, let alone those 
played out within electronic or digital literature. Rather the reading environ-
ment that new media produce plays a crucial role in our understanding of 
contemporary literary culture, and in the development of new sensibilities. It 
is a hybrid or multi-modal environment in which written and spoken words 
interact with sounds and images, it is one of social events as opposed to the 
private, intimate and hallucinatory world of literature as we knew it, and it 
is somewhat importunate given that the boundaries between what is private 
and what is public are being eroded. It often also turns out to be a conceptual 
environment since the challenge seems to involve extricating and elevating 
ideas from the overwhelming stream of information to frame chaos rather 
than creating something new. The things, words and concepts invented in 
such environments are difficult to define since the institutions that ruled the 
field of literature, and art in general, have been weakened. This of course 
includes the institutional ideas of what constitutes the literary work. It is a 
world of process where links, speed and remediations constantly rearrange or 
reinvent not just the literary, but also other kinds of art that the book, literal-
ly speaking, closed. And because of this these works will be increasingly ow-
nerless. Finally it is a world of Babel, as the national tongues that were born 
with literature to some extent seem to partake in new alchemistic and global 
relations. Hence, we believe that it is no coincidence that the Berlin-based 
Cia Rinne, with roots and relations in Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and 
Caroline Bergvall, who was born in Germany to French-Norwegian parents, 
but has lived and worked in England for many years, are among the most 
widely discussed artists in this book. Both of them place their work between 
languages, between nationalities and not least between the arts.
So far we have been talking about literature and not poetry for the obvi-
ous reason that the broad outlines that we have tried to sketch out frame the 

9
whole field of literature. Once we turn towards poetry we must, following 
these lines, ask questions in at least two directions. First, how the perspective 
or consciousness of media can renew our understanding of poetry; and se-
cond, what kind of new sensibilities are produced by and within contempo-
rary poetry and how can they contribute to the study of poetry. The first di-
rection takes us to the study of digital poetry as a more or less multi-modal, 
multi-lingual and conceptual process-oriented art practice, but also to con-
temporary poetry as performative event culture, for example in the form of 
public readings and different kinds of poetical acts on social media. It also 
leads us towards book history, casting new light on the history of poetry, and 
it poses questions of genre such as the apparent demise of lyric poetry and 
perhaps the re-articulation of the romantic and avant-garde idea of poetry 
not as a genre, but as a media of significant life. The second direction might 
lead us to theories of affect and emotion, atmosphere and Stimmung, to 
materiality studies or towards the contextual fields of feminism, minority 
studies, digital and environmental humanities or cosmopolitanism.
The inquiry in this book is whether this match of mediatization and 
new sensibilities is developing into a new major breakthrough in the study 
of poetry. Or, to put it less ambitiously, in what ways can the coupling of 
our title prove fruitful to our reading and understanding of poetry old and 
new, in and outside of books? Regardless, we have chosen the title Dialogues 
on Poetry since it must be an ongoing process to define, discuss and describe 
how poetry responds to the radical changes mentioned above. In addition, 
we have arranged the articles in small clusters and in such a way that they 
are in dialogue with each other on different subjects that all relate to our 
overall theme of mediatization and new sensibilities.
The first two articles revolve around the topics of WORD, PICTURE 
AND SOUND, and here we find Andrew Michael Roberts, who in “The 
Effaced Poetic Text in Intermedial Art Works” explores the interaction of 
text and image in a number of intermedial poetic-visual art works, which 
were commissioned as part of the Poetry Beyond Text project in the UK 2008 
and 2009. Claudia Benthien then examines poetry and performances by 
Nora Gomringer and Thomas Kling in “‘Audio-Poetry’: Lyrical Speech in 
the Digital Age”. In the cluster named ARCHEOLOGIES OF POETRY, 
Rebecca Beasley writes about “Migration, circulation, drift: translation and 
visuality in modernist and contemporary poetry”. Beasley draws some inte-

10
resting lines from the poetry of Ezra Pound to the above-mentioned Caroli-
ne Bergvall in the light of theories of globalization. Next Peter Dayan (with 
one foot in classical modernist poetry) writes “On the danger of pushing 
poetry towards music: the successes and failures of Hugo Ball, René Ghil, 
and Stéphane Mallarmé.” In DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY Hans Kristian 
Rustad addresses the idea of “technogenesis” when examining a work that 
has been something of a landmark within recent Scandinavian digital poe-
try, namely Johannes Heldén’s Evolution from 2013. Rustad’s article asks: 
“What also could poetry be? Technogenesis in Johannes Heldén’s Evoluti-
on”. In the same cluster Matti Kangaskoski humorously relates Cia Rinne’s 
work archives zaroum (2008) with philosophical ideas about the function 
of button in “From Pressing the Button to Clicking the Mouse – The Shift 
from Static to Dynamic Media”. In the cluster called AMBIENT SENSI-
TIVITIES Anne Karhio, in her article “From Page to Screen: The Poetry 
Project and the poetics of landscape”, writes about The Poetry Project, a 
collaborative venture that brought together Irish poetry and video art in 
2013. She focuses on the representation of landscape in these works. Mi-
chael Karlsson Pedersen’s essay does not focus on landscape, but has a more 
theoretical perspective on nature and poetry in: “Firm grips and light tou-
ches. An essay on things and halfthings in postwar German nature poetry”. 
In CULTURAL CRITIQUE we have set up a dialogue between Caspar 
Eric Christensen and Mikkel Krause Frantzen’s article about the Ameri-
can author and artist Tao Lin called “i am a little bit more depressed than 
you are – Tao Lin as an example of a contemporary poetry of depression 
and other negative feelings” and Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen’s: “#.Pls. 
.Select. .ur. .CHar[r(i)ed.H] Ac(k)tor.#. Agency, interpellation and address 
in digital poetry”. As one can see, the first part of Sørensen’s title is a line that 
can hardly be read, particularly out loud, but she nevertheless close reads a 
poem that contains other lines like this created by the Australian code poet 
called mez. Both articles try to relate their readings to a general cultural cri-
tique. In the first article a critical perspective on the cult of happiness, and 
in the latter a relation between agency in reading code poetry and agency 
in Judith Butler’s ideas of the formation of the subject. The cluster GEN-
RE AND FORM contains stimulating contributions from three knowled-
geable Scandinavian scholars on poetry. Louise Mønster problematizes the 
question of genre in relation to contemporary Danish poetry in her article 

11
“Contemporary Poetry and the Question of Genre”, and Ole Karlsen gives 
us an overview of recent Norwegian poetry in the article: “‘Bare lerkene 
kan lese morgenen / den blå bokstaven / i en altfor stor resept’. Norwegian 
poetry 2000–2012 from a form perspective”. In “Why Can Poetry Matter? 
Or: Poetry as an Ideal – or an Expanding Genre” Peter Stein Larsen then 
puts the question of genre in perspective. Stein Larsen argues that in spite 
of several recent attacks on the genre, it is still very vital and as such there 
is no need to be worried on behalf of the future of poetry. In BEYOND 
LITERATURE James Day and Dan Ringgaard both examine poetry from 
a viewpoint, so to speak, beyond literature. In his article “Art writing hung 
out to dry”, Day discusses what radical practices of critical writing might 
look like through works of poetry and art called Art Writing. For instance, 
Day addresses the work of Caroline Bergvall. Dan Ringgaard then examines 
the broader idea of poetry and its relation to life in his article: “Poetry is 
the Significant Flow of Life. Poetry as a Trans-medial Concept in the Work 
of Filmmaker and Poet Jørgen Leth”. Last but not least, our book includes 
contributions from two authors who have had a huge influence on contem-
porary Scandinavian poetry, from the inside and the outside. The section 
FROM A POET’S POINT OF VIEW contains the Danish poet Morten 
Søndergaard’s considerations on his own work Ordapoteket (“Wordpharma-
cy”) under the title “A Wordpharmacist’s Confessions” and Juliana Spahr’s 
“Contemporary US Poetry and Its Nationalisms”, in which she addresses 
what she calls the “George W Bush administration’s peculiar interest in lite-
rature”. This turns out to be a story told through and with poetry, not least 
the resistance of contemporary poetry.
All in all, our book clearly has a huge diversity in terms of themes and 
subjects, but this diversity seems to be sign of a very vigorous genre. In-
deed, poetry may be the most flexible of the traditional literary genres du-
ring a period which hastily and continually updates itself into new versions, 
new apps and new media. Contemporary poetry seems to be less bound up 
with conventions and fixed established, institutional restrictions than other 
genres, the novel for instance. The freedom of the genre displays itself in 
its flexibility, its freedom from the forces of the market, from nationali-
ties, the traditional book-design, the technical and practical difficulties of 
being a writer, even sometimes freedom from publishers. Behind all this 
one of course notices several customary poetical ambitions, after all it was 

the archmodernist Stéphane Mallarmé who talked about a pure language 
and leaving the initiative to the words. The poetical freedom that is cove-
red in this book might therefore have turned out slightly differently than 
Mallarmé ever imagined, but the ambitions are nevertheless comparable, 
even if the freedom is being expressed differently and with new means: pure 
language might be multi-modal and the initiative might be taken by much 
more than just words.
Contemporary poetry is thriving because literature today seems to take 
place in many places – not “just” in books – and in new ways within books. 
This development, therefore, does not have to mean a dilution of either 
literature or poetry’s impact and influence in Western societies; rather it 
could be a sign of a more radical, democratized understanding of what lite-
rature also does, besides being a very fortunate object of reading, teaching 
and studying. It creates discourses, interchanges, discussions and exchan-
ges of ideas, or in short dialogues, not just dialogues on poetry, but also 
dialogues of poetry. 

13
THE EFFACED POETIC TEXT IN   
 
INTERMEDIAL ART WORKS
ANDREW MICHAEL ROBERTS
Introduction
This article explores the interaction of text and image in a number of in-
termedial poetic-visual art works which were commissioned as part of the 
Poetry Beyond Text project (2009-11).
1
 Here ‘intermedial’ is understood 
to refer to works “in which the materials of various more established art 
forms are “conceptually fused” rather than merely juxtaposed”.
2
 More spe-
cifically, the article will explore the significance of strategies in which the 
textual elements of such work are seemingly effaced, self-effacing, defaced 
or hidden. It will ask what is at stake in such apparent effacement, in terms 
of aesthetic choices, the dynamics of inter-art collaboration, the phenom-
enology of the viewing / reading experience, and the history of relations 
between poetry and painting.
I will begin by quoting two comments on the status of writing within 
pictures. The Scottish artist Will Maclean, when asked why he had used 
a swan’s feather to hand-write poetic text in an artists’ book (making the 
text relatively hard to read), commented that ‘to an artist, writing is just 
marks on the page’.
3
  The digital language artist John Cayley argues that “a 
representation of writing must be illegible, otherwise it is writing” (Cayley 
2006, 15). These comments have to be understood in the context of the 
complex history of contention and interaction between verbal and visual 
arts, and an equally complex history of discourse around ideas of image, 
representation, text and writing. That discursive history has been most 
subtly explored by W.J.T. Mitchell, in a series of theoretical works which 
I will draw on at various points (Mitchell 1980, Mitchell 1986, Mitch-
ell 1994, Mitchell 2005). This history will be familiar to many readers 
but, broadly, it has two strands relevant to the presence discussion. One, 
stretching from the classical doctrine of ‘ut pictura poesis’ to the ‘sister 
arts’ tradition and modernist/postmodernist inter-art innovation, stresses 
complementarity or integration of visual and textual arts. The other, from 

14
Lessing’s Laocoön to modernist ‘medium-specificity’ and beyond, stresses 
their distinctness, their differences, their unique qualities or genius, and 
sets them up in competition or opposition. The two strands often co-exist 
and interweave; one or other may seem temporarily dominant, but they 
also have a degree of mutual dependence, in both discourse and in prac-
tice. It is a set of relations charged with attraction and repulsion, varying 
between the belief that integration of the arts will offer richer aesthetic 
experiences, and the anxiety that it will dilute their crucial qualities. Often 
present in discussions, implicitly or explicitly, is the impulse to claim su-
perior insight into truth or meaning for either words or images. Of course 
the problematic binary of text and image (problematic because writing is 
also visual and visual art is often understood in terms of language) is only 
one relation in a complex set of art relations involving also sculpture, mu-
sic, dance, architecture, film, and other art forms. Another crucial context 
for this discussion is the history of creative works which foreground the 
materiality shared by writing with painting and sculpture. Joanna Drucker 
critical and creative work has explored this area extensively. She argues 
that, in many historical forms of writing,
significance inheres in the written form of the language as 
much on account of the properties of physical materials as 
through a text’s linguistic content. Whether incidental or 
foregrounded, such specific properties of written language 
are what ensure its unique role within human culture. 
(Drucker 1998, 57)
Contexts for the works discussed here include ancient traditions such as 
visual poetry and inscriptions, as well as the rich traditions of poetry with 
foregrounded materiality of the last sixty years: concrete, visual, installed, 
inscribed on landscapes, or in visual-art poetic hybrids. 
The Poetry Beyond Text project, based at the Universities of Dundee 
and Kent, and combined literary criticism, experimental psychology and 
practice-based research to study hybrid poetic-visual forms and practices. 
One element of the research was the commissioning of works involving 
collaborations between poets and artists, often working together for the 
first time. The commissions took a wide range of material and generic 

15
forms: artists’ books, sculptures, screen-based and virtual-reality digital 
works, films, photographs, concrete and visual poems. A notable feature of 
the work in the exhibition held at the Royal Scottish Academy in 2011 was 
the presence of what might be termed ‘effaced poetic text’: poetry which, 
in the process of becoming part of an integrated intermedial art work, 
is deliberately obscured, hidden, erased, rendered difficult or impossible 
to read, in whole or part. Why was this a feature of a significant number 
of these collaborative works? Did it reflect an anxiety on the part of the 
visual artists involved about the potential dominance of words in defining 
meaning (a problem often noted in relation to captions in exhibitions)? 
Or a sense of the potentially determining explicitness of text (despite the 
fact that these were poetic texts, notoriously not an explicit form)? Did it 
indicate some desire on the part of the poets to hold back or withdraw 
some element of their work? Or perhaps a wish to enforce slow and careful 
reading, given the tendency in a gallery context for reading to be quick? 
Or was it in some sense an inevitable result of the intermedial form, given 
that it is possible to insert text into a painting, or print or sculpture, but 
it is hardly possible to do the converse: a book of poems can contain im-
ages, and a concrete or visual poem can constitute an image, but a poem 
cannot contain images, other than in the mental or verbal sense of image 
(as opposed to the graphical sense).
4
  Each partner in such a collaboration 
is faced with specific forms of subservience and dominance, if one wishes 
to put it in terms of power, although there is no reason to think that those 
involved experienced it in such a way - most seemed to find it a reward-
ing and convivial creative process. There is the denotative dominance of 
words. Whatever an artist may paint, if the poet includes the word ‘trage-
dy’ (for example) the work somehow becomes a work of, or about, tragedy 
(whether ironically or not). On the other hand, there is the incorporative 
and demonstrative or performative dominance of the visual artist: the poet 
is more or less obliged to hand over his or her words to the artist in mate-
rial media, who must write them, paint them, print them, or whatever, in 
order to give them material form within the intermedial work.
To return to my opening quotations, I would observe that both com-
ments to some degree seem to deny intermediality. Maclean seems to im-
ply that writing integrated into a painting ceases to be text and becomes 
painting, while Cayley’s comment suggests that writing is either writing 

16
or else an (illegible) representation of writing.
5
 Nevertheless, Maclean and 
Cayley both work in highly intermedial ways. 


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