Sunday, April 10, 2011

Week 11: Visual Digital Poetry Part 1: Cowboy Poetry

      For this week's seminar we are exploring digital poetry. Using the prompt:

      §Try a "digital" poem, or poem in programmable media, or indeed one using links or HTML as a fundamental dimension

      I decided to try this out. One of my favorite movies is one that I saw just this past semester, Dances with Wolves (1990, Kevin Costner). And one of my other favorite films of all time, and one I consider to be the best film of the 2000-2010 era (Oughts, whatever you want to call them) is There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson). I knew I wanted to connect the two together in some way. I combined the awesome font from There Will Be Blood (found at and a credit to Mr Fisk Fonts) and the recommended YouTube video that plays the theme of Dances with Wolves, and a wonderful landscape picture to accompany a classic "Cowboy Poetry" poem, The Spell of the Yukon Gold," by Arthur Chapman. Unfortunately, I got the font to work on my computer, but when I checked from a different computer that didn't have the font installed it didn't show up. So I'm going to e-mail it to the class attached as a PDF. (If you aren't in English 111 and still want to read it, let me know and I'll e-mail it).
      Cowboy Poetry is a subgenre of poetry, and apparently it has a long history that I didn't know much about until my mom mentioned it (kudos to Mom!). It's interesting as hell. I think compiling all of these components made the poem more moving. You were given sensual stimuli on so many fronts--a visual, a text, a font that conjurs up associations with a certain genre and time period, and a song from one of the most beautiful soundtracks ever. I'm pretty happy with it, and I hope you are, too!

The Spell of the Yukon Gold
By Arthur Chapman

Out among the big things-   The mountains and the plains-
An hour ain't important,
Nor are the hour's gains;
The feller in the city
Is hurried night and day,
But out among the big things
He learns the calmer way.

Out among the big things-
   The skies that never end-

to lose a day ain't nothin'
    The days are here to spend;
So why not give 'em freely,
Enjoyin' as we go?
I somehow can't stop thinkin'
the good Lord means life so.

Out among the big things-
the heights that gleam afar-
A feller gets to wonder
What means each distant star;
He may not get the answer,
But somehow every night
He feels, among the big things,
   That everything's all right.

For more about Cowboy Poetry, see this useful site: The Classic Cowboy Bush Poetry of the Range Writers

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