RIT’s New “Digital and Contemporary Poetries Class” Opens Door to Poets




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A showcase of poets who explore language and the digital world are turning a new poetry class at Rochester Institute of Technology into a cultural event.

The pilot class, Digital and Contemporary Poetries, in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts invites practicing poets into the classroom to show students how to stretch their imagination and the definition of poetry.

“We like to stress that there isn’t one kind of poetry,” says John Roche, professor of language and literature at RIT.

Roche team-teaches the class with Linda Reinfeld, professor of language and literature at RIT, both of whom studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo under poet Robert Creeley.

Reinfeld, author of Language Poetry: Writing as Rescue, thinks poetry is going digital and interactive. “A game like Arteroids by Jim Andrews (www.vispo.com) shows how poetry can explode into a digital and multi-media environment.”

Together, Reinfeld and Roche are leading their class through performance poetry, avant-garde poetry and the relatively new world of e-poetry in which computer codes and the Internet become poetic fodder.

“This is all very new,” Roche says. “The people who are practicing this have been doing it for 10 years or less. We are at the very early stages of what we can do using video technologies and the Internet.”

Reinfeld adds: “Writing is an exciting and ever-changing technology, an exploration of difference. I hope our students find ways through poetry to voice, perform and record what is most important to them.”

Following is a list of poets and scholars who will visit RIT as part of the Digital and Contemporary Poetries class. The performances—free and open to the public—are made possible with funding from a FEAD grant provided by RIT’s Office of the Provost.

  • Wednesday, April 7: Elizabeth Lawley, professor of information technology at RIT and world-famous blogger, at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201.

  • Monday, April 12: Telephone conference with Vancouver e-poet, artist, and musician Jim Andrews of Vispo.com, 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201.

  • Wednesday, April 14: Loss Pequeño Glazier, poet, professor of media study, and director of the Electronic Poetry Center at the State University of New York at Buffalo and author of Digital Poetics; noon colloquium in the Gosnell Building auditorium, room A-300, and discussion at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201.

  • Monday, April 19: Steve Jacobs, professor of information technology and host of WXXI’s What the Tech!, will speak about poetry, film and computer gaming at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201.

  • Wednesday, April 21-22: Ed Sanders, Beat Legend, lead singer of The Fugs, author of The Family and Tales of Beatnik Glory, e-publisher of The Woodstock Journal, electronic instrument inventor, and author of numerous poetry books, including America: A History in Verse; April 21, discussion about the role of technology in today’s poetry at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201; performance at 7:30 p.m. on April 21 in Carlson Auditorium, building 76, room 1125; April 22, discussion about ancient Greek poetry at noon in the Liberal Arts Building, room 1251.

  • Monday, April 26: Brandon Barr, E-Poet and Banner Artist, at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201.

  • Wednesday, April 28: Marcia Birken, professor of mathematics at RIT, and Anne Coon, professor of language and literature at RIT, will speak about fractal poetry, at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201.

  • Monday, May 3: Kenny Lerner, visiting instructor in the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Liberal Arts Support Team and nationally known performance poet, will discuss ASL/Signed Poetry and the Flying Words Project, at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201.

  • Wednesday, May 5: Mary Lynn Broe, chair of language and literature at RIT, will give her talk, “Wild Women and Guerrilla Grrls from the Jazz Age to the Computer Age,” at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room A-201.

    For more information, call John Roche at 475-4922 or Linda Reinfeld at 475-4622.