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THE LITERARY PICTURE SHOW
by John Hospodka



Within his April 17, 2012, "Thank You" email to the company's costumers, the President of BookBaby, Mr. Brian Felsen, commented, "The eBook is starting to realize its potential as more than a format, but a vehicle to creativity and success ..." I'd like to toss out to the literary world, to the realm of poetry, specifically, the proposition for a new mode of literary experience, one that gives theory to this "vehicle" described by Mr. Felsen. Let's see how it flies. ...


It is time to remove the poem from the confining context of poetry. The poem must be displaced from the lofty heights of insularity, and be plopped smack-dab into the midst of humility. The poem must be propositioned into becoming less than itself if poetry is to survive and flourish in the greater world, the world outside of academia. So then, what will be the context that's best suited to open poetry's crossed-arms stance?


The Literary Picture Show* is the expression of a new mode for the delivery of poetry that enacts the endeavor of poetics via the conglomeration of sound, images, and a sequence of literary modes; it involves the evolution of an offering driven not so much by tactile poetry (though individual poems are most certainly a part of its highlights) as by the narrative spirit of poetics. Though this new mode presents itself at base as an enhanced eBook, an instrument of multimedia containing illustration/art, audio, video, and more, it moves beyond format by conveying a new challenge, a new idea, to the poet's craft. It is an undertaking that makes more of the poet, challenging him/her to assume such roles as producer, writer, director, lyricist, song writer, set designer, videographer, etc. The poet is challenged to relinquish some overlordship as he/she collaborates and attempts to guide visual artists, actors, musicians, etc. What's more, while relinquishing some of his/her overlordship, the poet is pressed to practice tact. For the poet must incorporate the multimedia elements while preserving the offering as being foremostly an act of literature. That's to say, the poet is challenged to make certain that the multimedia elements do not overpower the experience, but rather are ingratiated into the singular literary coding that positions his/her offering as a unified whole - as a unique voice and vision. It is via these tasks that the Literary Picture Show makes the poet's labor more relevant in today and tomorrow's world.


We now exist within a world of Gizmobation, a condition that has brought the activity of multitasking into greater cerebral play, and which has without a doubt made it increasingly harder for the individual to focus and remain fully present in the moment. This is not good news for the art of poetry because the fearless, selfless honesty that renders the intense experience of poetry to both the reader and the poet resides exactly in "the moment." The future will only produce more focus-less multitaskers - less and less poetry readers. It is not a great challenge to make a poem a multimedia "event" - add some audio, some choice visuals/video, and presto! That is simply the placement of a poem inside an advertisement of itself; that is not the presentation of a new mode of literature. The Literary Picture Show goes beyond this advertising, responding to the age of Gizmobation in an assenting manner: By spiriting the poem beyond the context of poetry, humbling it into entombment within an experience more momentous than itself, the Literary Picture Show stands to transform the idea of poetics into a new and positive cerebral toil. And it must be admitted that finally, in his/her execution of a Literary Picture Show, the poet must reach out unapologetically towards irreverence, bringing to the poetry world's staid table an offering rendered from the heretofore "sophomoric" endeavor of entertainment.


The fact is that most readers stay away from poetry because of the assumption that there is an aloof, elusive - read: boring - technique to reading and appreciating the poem. There must finally come about the realization within the poetry world that though technique is in both the poet and the poetry critic's inimitable chemistries, the reader of poetry rather only happens upon technique (this is not at all to diminish the poetry reader's importance and necessity and work). Poetry's potential readership should be allowed - even more, should be expected - to approach a poem without at first - if ever (this needs to be confessed) - attempting to read it as being poetry. Within the Literary Picture Show poetry is propelled by the poet's understanding that the poem is first and foremost merely a component of a greater picture. An integral component, to be sure, but it will more likely than not be the other literary techniques, the sounds and the images created or guided by the poet that will bring readers to the poems themselves.


In its composition, the Literary Picture Show encourages a poem to be reduced to a mere read; experienced, that is to say, as a stepping-stone not as an end-all. And thusly the Literary Picture Show asks the poet to compose poems in the awareness that his/her primary responsibility is to enrich a poem under the camouflage of his/her greater offering: to not allow the poem to take center stage; to suggest the poem draws as much from its surroundings as it gives to them; to channel the poem towards becoming a part of the puzzle, not the puzzle. It is in this way that the Literary Picture Show will invite readers who are indifferent to poetry to less laboriously - less dreadfully - attempt to connect with the poem, and to more gamely "go cerebral" within the poem to discover its role within the greater offering, to perhaps even more readily turn back to the poem at times to take a better look into its sly ambiguities once experiencing what is being revealed throughout the poet's greater offering.


Therein is the paramount idea behind the Literary Picture Show: it is designed to bring poetry outside of its box - to bring poetry to people, not just to poets. It is with this stimulus that the Literary Picture Show asks of the poet, of poetry, really, to take a leap of egalitarian faith and recognize that the Literary Picture Show offers an exceptional opportunity to bring readers who are indifferent to poetry into "the moment" - bring them to the point where they seek out a poem's greater treasure - bring them to the point where they come to enthusiastically labor over a poem to get at its technique and understand its individual atmosphere. With regards to those readers who come away from a Literary Picture Show as indifferent as ever to poetry, the poet must also in this instance take a leap of egalitarian faith, and presume that at least those readers tried the poems, "the moments," within as being components in the narrative spirit that guided his/her greater offering.


It is in the grasping at such a faith that the poet will be put into a framework where his/her honest character can be more accessible, hence more vital, to poetry's potential readership. For with the Literary Picture Show the poet cultivates a playing field upon which both poet and reader can sport a fuller realization of Marcus Aurelius' meditation: "The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act."


John Hospodka
Bohemian Pupil Press
Bridgeport, Chicago
2012


*at this point in time, until other devices catch up, the Literary Picture Show can only be experienced via iOS devices - iPad, etc. - and so is only available through iTunes bookstore


SOUTH SIDE TRILOGY: A LITERARY PICTURE SHOW
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