There is a limit to what I want to divulge about my “House of Leaves” inspired poem because, like HoL, I think it should remain open to interpretation. For that reason I have also left the poem without a title so that the reader is left without any hints of authorial intent. As we have discussed before in our chats, I didn’t feel as though I wrote this poem as much as I created, or perhaps constructed, it.
Going into this piece one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to imply the same type of reading challenges HoL presents me with. Therefore, I built it in a way that every reader must decide for themselves how to read it, and where to start. To start I did a lot of research on palindromes (words or sentences that read the same forward and backward) so that the bright red section would actually read exactly the same from left to right and right to left. I scrolled through the lists I found and noted any phrases or words that were relevant and that I felt drawn toward; then started constructing. The following is a result of those efforts:
Won’t I panic in A pit now?
Won’t lovers revolt now?
Draw, O coward
L _ _ _ evItative
Although experimenting with blank space is one of the tools HoL utilizes, I didn’t feel satisfied with leaving it at just that. Thus, I looked back through the text noting anything that stood out and I came across the letters from Johnny’s mother. The repeating jumbled words really struck a chord with me because when you read them they start to really infect your psyche. What I thought to do differently, however, was to de-emphasize my chosen phrase (“this is madness”) in order to differentiate the phrases from the palindromes. The poem is also multiple poems together to create another greater piece to mirror the layering of stories in “House of Leaves.”
The last step was to decide on a shape for the piece. While I got the shaping of the poem to display correctly on my laptop, it actually is distorted when I view it on my Ipad. At first I was discouraged by this, but then I realized that the distorted image is almost better. After all part of what makes HoL so frightening is mostly in our own minds. With a distorted shape my goal of open interpretation is better accomplished because the reader then also must decide what they are looking at as well.
My final step was to hyperlink my palindromes to various other media. This was probably the most difficult part because I didn’t want to tie the reader down to only what thoughts the words or phrases invoked in me.
I really enjoyed this assignment, and I am looking forward to doing more. Analyzing HoL pushed me out of my box and forced me to take a second look at how I approach reading and writing. Through this I have discovered that literature has many faces… all of which are beautiful.
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect from this class, but so far I love it. Being allowed such creative freedom has been very rewarding for me, and I am discovering that I creativity is an important part of my definition of Digital Humanities.