Introduction for Stephanie Strickland
By Nick Monfort
I am very happy to have the chance, this evening, to introduce Stephanie Strickland to you here at the Writers House. Because of my involvement in what the cool kids call "electronic literature," I've actually had the pleasure of hearing Stephanie share V:Vniverse in this way several times in different venues. Just as it's been rewarding to read and re-read Stephanie's poems, I have continued to enjoy her reading and presentation of this project and to discover new aspects and dimensions of it each time. But I also remember the impression that V:Vniverse made on me when I first heard Stephanie read from it, the way the scope and register of these poems were revealed through an interface, and I'm very glad that many of you will have the chance to experience that tonight.
It's obligatory in these sorts of introductions for me to say something about what a great poet Stephanie is, and there is plenty to say in that regard. Johanna Drucker has praised the work she is reading from today as "radical in integrating new technology, not as a novelty or special effect, but as a way of thinking." The print portion of this work was selected by Brenda Hillman for the Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America. Stephanie's recent long poem "The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot" won awards both in its print and Web editions. Stephanie's book of poems True North was chosen by Barbara Guest for the same award that V: WaveSon.nets/Losing LĠuna garnered. Stephanie developed a hypertext edition of True North back in 1997; that work earned her the Salt Hill Hypertext Prize. And before this, she had written The Red Virgin: A Poem of Simone Weil, which was awarded the Brittingham Prize.
Of course, you'll get to hear Stephanie Strickland read from V:Vniverse in a just a moment, which should impress you even more than hearing of the recognition she's has been given for her work, so I'll refrain from continuing with the usual listing of literary magazines. But before I let Stephanie begin, I'd like to share with you just a bit about the other ways in which she has been a very dedicated and incisive explorer of the computer as a medium for creative expression, someone who has invested a lot of time, effort, and talent in making space for the literary in the realm of digital media.
I've known Stephanie since 1999. Not only have I been enriched by her critical writing about literary computing, I've had the chance to read and discuss with her several cybertextual and digital works ranging from Milorad Pavic's The Dictionary of the Khazars to Rob Swigart's Portal to Stuart Moulthrop's Reagan Library. Stephanie has been both a mentor and a friend, and has been kind enough to talk with me about my own writing, and to discuss my poems with me before I even was willing to think of myself as a poet. She is tireless as a teacher of writing. As the McEver Chair in Writing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Stephanie developed the TechnoPoetry Festival 2002, affording many students and visitors a broad and rich experience of computer poetry. She is a director of the Electronic Literature Organization and is a strong voice on the board of that organization. If any of you would like to know more about the Electronic Literature Organization and what it does, or would like to learn how to explore, on your own, the universe of electronic liteature that is freely available online today, I know Stephanie would be glad to talk with you about these matters afterwards, as I would be.
But first, we're honored to have Stephanie lead us into V:Vniverse and through some of her other poems. Please join me in welcoming Stephanie Strickland.