Reading Material on the Internet
I’m happy that this week the new on-line journal LEVELER (it started in ’09) is featuring my poem “Epiphenomenal Epithalamium.” As far as literary journals, much quality content can be found on the Internet, and it is definitely hard to stay abreast of what’s out there. But the premise of LEVELER is, I think, a novel one and deserves distinction: alongside the poem, one may click (if one chooses to) the section called “levelheaded” and an editorial exegesis will then appear beside the text. This is the journal’s mission statement:
To assure our readers we are being responsible editors and to increase the transparency of our editorial process as a whole, each poem published by LEVELER will be accompanied by a brief note on our selection entitled levelheaded. Here we will look at what a poem conveys and how. In no way do we claim levelheaded is a final, authoritative take on any corresponding poem. Instead, we hope to provide readers with another way into the poem, thereby encouraging closer readings, and ultimately, challenges to our findings.
Since my poem is so much a meditation on pairs — a partner and a partner, a sound and its echo — I think LEVELER is the perfect place for it as the site beautifully presents text and paratext, a work and a possible interpretation. And I’m quite partial to the site’s elegant geometric design.
But more than that: I like the seriousness of the editorial mission.
LEVELER truly shows — contra Dana Gioia’s 2004 NEA report “Reading At Risk” (in which he states, “reading a book requires a degree of active attention and engagement…by contrast, most electronic media such as television, recordings, and radio make fewer demands on their audiences, and indeed often require no more than passive participation”) — that real close reading happens on the internet.
Many thanks to the editors for the perceptive commentary and for their engaging and ongoing web project.