Renga in Four Parts (IF Demo Fair version)   3 comments

I’ve already brought it up on a comment thread here and elsewhere, so I might as well make an official link:

Download for Renga in Four Parts

It is in Hugo (any multi-format interpreter like Gargoyle also ought to work).

This is not a “demo” — it is as long as it is going to be and was actually made shorter in initial testing — but more of an “open beta”. If you try it at this stage I have one request: please send a transcript (email address in the about text of the poem).

Here’s the “author notes” from the fair:

Not-frequently asked
Questions about
Renga in Four Parts

So what’s all this then? It’s interactive poetry. Back in 2005 I was theorizing about categories of interactive fiction (like “Hypertext” versus “Gamebook”), and ended up with an empty gap on my chart along the “high freedom of input, user does not control a character in the story” category. The closest I could come up with was Andrew Plotkin’s Space Under the Window, which referenced itself as interactive poetry (even though it wasn’t, strictly speaking, poetry). I thought – why not actual poetry?

So I’ve been puttering with this for 6 years. There were all sorts of bad ideas along the way but the IF Demo Fair gave me a chance to bring my experiment to a finish. Hence: the renga (“linked poem”) you are about to experience.

If this is haiku, where’s the 5-7-5 syllable thing? Japanese poets do not count “syllables”, they count onji, which means “sound symbol” and is not the same thing as an English syllable. In translation to get equivalent sound duration something close to 2-3-2 is a more accurate way to fit English, but even that is only a loose suggestion:

old pond . . .
a frog leaps in
water’s sound
— Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)

In modern practice poets throw out syllable counts altogether and focus on rhythm in a limited space.

What should I type? It’s up to you. You can type particular words that occur in the text, or words that are implied. You can be entirely experiential and use word-association. Keep in mind that what you type is much a part of the poem as the verse.

Hovering, unobtrusive
watching over
the grey-sanded beach

Enjoy, and thanks for trying!

Posted March 22, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Poetry

3 responses to “Renga in Four Parts (IF Demo Fair version)

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  1. Pingback: Two Stream-of-Consciousness Experiments in Interactive Fiction « Saucers of Mud

  2. My IFDemo piece, “The Table,” was also in the “high freedom of input, user does not control a character in the story” category; though it’s not poetry, and is definitely a demo rather than anything I’d consider finished. I have more about it here, if you’re interested.

  3. Pingback: IF Demo Fair: Desiring Flights and other interactive poetry | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

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