AN AMERICAN LIFE IN WRITING
An experiment in language inspired by the office of Poet Laureate of the United States by Patrick Sanchez
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DIRECTIONS

Click on a list and a new window will open. Then drag and drop words from the lists at the bottom of each page, using your mouse, to create a new work. Click the p in the upper left corner to print your work.

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PROJECT STATEMENT | Starting Points

An American Life In Writing is a re-contextualization of the words used in the first fifty-two poems of Ted Kooser's column, American Life In Poetry. Each poem is alphabetized and made mobile through the use of Javascript and Cascading Style Sheets. Users are invited to click words within a list, and then to drag them using a mouse in order to (re)organize, score, visually depict, and otherwise create a new work. The code employed in the project allows users to deal in more than one graphic plane by piling language on top of itself and by offering shifts in perspective through an uncommon juxtaposition of words. Side by side, these two curations of language present both the traditional editorial model of print and a newer model based within the decentralized context of networked culture.

In his weekly column of curated poetry, Ted Kooser, former Poet Laureate of the United States of America, writes that he selects pieces of writing because they are "brief and will be enjoyable and enlightening to readers of newspapers and online publications." Mr. Kooser's title, American Life In Poetry, implies that his column is comprehensive of American poetry and he further asserts that all online readers will enjoy his selections in his introduction. In light of his former position and what he asserts, his exclusion of particular kinds of poetry, creates an opportunity. An American Life In Writing attempts to take advantage of this opportunity and is a response to the position of Poet Laureate of the United States of America. According to the Library of Congress, a Poet Laureate Consultant "serves as the nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans . . ." By definition then, Poet Laureates of the United States of America perform a service of provision from a position of intellectual expertise as the prime civic cohorts charged with diverting the poetic impulse of Americans. (See also lightning rod.)