Stepping Into the River
Experiencing John Cayley's RiverIsland

by Maria Engberg

In this paper I investigate the emergence of new writing and reading practices under the impact of digital media. Examining Cayley's poetic work riverIsland , I focus on what the poet himself calls “literal morphing.” These transformations of letters constitute, I argue, an important shift in poetic writing whose importance for literary analysis must be acknowledged. I conclude that poetic works in programmable media lead to a rethinking of concepts of surface and depth in relation to writing.

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