Currents in Electronic Literacy

E-poets on the State of their Electronic Art:

Jim Andrews


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Jim Andrews is a full-time "web.artist" who lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Before becoming digital in 1990, Jim Andrews produced a literary radio show called Fine Lines and, later, in the 1980's, a show called ?Frame? which concentrated on audio writing. He also produced the literary magazine And Yet and hosted and organized a weekly poetry reading series in Victoria called Mocambopo. His primary Web site is (, which represents the center of his publishing endeavors. He is also the founder of webartery, an email list and Web site concerned with the poetics of

  1. How do you define your work--what categorizations/classifications (traditional or otherwise) would you use to distinguish e-poetry in general and your work in particular?

    I consider what I do as a form of writing, though I work also in image, sound, and code, besides text. And I call myself a poet from time to time, I mean I love poetry, that is somehow my first loyalty. But I also consider myself a web.artist. The latter is probably more understandable widely than calling what I do poetry, because my work does not resemble poetry in some ways, and I rarely write poems anymore, i.e., on paper. Yet I am intensely involved in language, which is part of the reason why I say poetry is my first loyalty.

  2. What are you doing in e-poetry that cannot be done in more traditional modes (such as linear paper)?

    Various forms of interactivity, motion, programmability and sound. Also, the color work I do is not economically possible for me, anyway, in large print runs. And I am able to publish to a widely international audience from my place, which I found much harder to do in print. And I am able to be in touch with other artists and thinkers more easily than prior to becoming digital. I am a programmer also; so I'm able to combine all my interests in the digital realm.

  3. If you "collaborate" with others (for instance, outsource particular technological aspects of a "poem"), do you feel this affects the poem's "authorship?"

    Yes. But authorship is very tangled at the best of times, given that our thoughts and ideas generally have considerable history that precedes us.

  4. Who are your readers and how are you interacting with them? How is youraudience similar to and/or different from that of the traditional poet's?

    I have a site at, and that is basically my "book." So mostly the readers are unknown, though countable. I also publish in electronic journals and speak at events. I correspond with those who respond via email to the site, and I participate in several email lists. I started one list, Webartery, that focuses on discussion of poetics of etc. My audience is interested in combining poetry with other media, arts, and technologies, as am I, and in thinking about the consequences of this.

  5. What excites you about this new medium for poetry? And what particular drawbacks (if any) does working with electronic technology present?

    The synthesis/juxt of various media/arts/tech/communications excites me. On the Web one may make works that involve sound, text, image, communications conduit, interactivity, and much neath text (code). Also, being able to be in communication with other artists and thinkers easily is exciting. There is a sense that poetry can have some energy in these directions. The main drawbacks are the Babel of languages/techs and the decay time of the technologies, but for me, being a programmer and communicator as well as a writer, the alternative is not interesting; I'm not going back to print until I'm too old or ill to run a computer.

  6. How are you integrating/embracing other media such as sound, animation, and navigation?

    My primary tool these days is Director. Its strength is in the way that it allows you to combine/fuse/synthesize/juxtapose different media, and the granularity of control it gives you over the media. I have moved into developing the art and tech of interactive audio for the Web using Director. These pieces typically involve music/sound/visual poetry, and interactive animations, and are typically compositional as well as "unfinished" in that there is content to explore rather than creating all the content yourself.

  7. What kind of aesthetic is emerging in the field?

    Poets are closer to visual artists, musicians, etc and are also closer to scientists and technologists. Poetry is finding its way in electronic media, not just print.

  8. What do you think the future holds for e-poets and e-poetry?

    I think that writing poetry and writing software will not be so far apart, typically, in the future as is the case now. Nor will writing and making pictures. Or writing and recorded sound. I think our sense of poetry will be extended through all the dimensions of language.

Please cite this article as Currents in Electronic Literacy Fall 2001 (5),