Most discussions of literature on computers and mobile devices have to do with prose, or else non-fiction such as textbooks. But Victor Keegan has a piece on The Literary Platform talking about e-poetry.
Keegan, a poet and 47-year veteran of The Guardian, has released a couple of poetry-related iPhone applications that link poems (classic works and his own verse) to locations that inspired them. He writes here about the challenges inherent in marrying poetry to new advances in technology and social networking.
For Keegan’s first two books of poetry, he tried different experiments in technology to promote the book—a website for his first one, a launch on Second Life for his second.
For his third, inspired by the way mobile phones and other devices are changing the way we interact with our culture, Keegan released the contents of all three books—over 250 poems—in an iPhone app for only £1.79 ($2.99 in the US).
This may seem crazy for something that took over ten years to write but it reflects the fact that once you have uploaded the content the cost of making and delivering extra copies is zero. In theory there is already a market of several billion people out there with mobiles with no middle men between me and them – if only I could get near to them.
It is good to see more people cognizant of the zero-marginal-cost advantage of distributing electronic literature, and also interesting to see technology used to make literature something more than just words on a page. Linking the poems to maps of real-world locations is a way to add some additional value that is not also an invasive distraction. I hope the apps work out well for him.