Poemage is a digital tool that was recently developed by Nina McCurdy (University of Utah) to aid users in “visual close reading.” The Poemage website describes,
“Poemage is a visualization system for exploring the sonic topology of a poem. We define sonic topology as the complex structures formed via the interaction of sonic patterns — words connected through some sonic or linguistic resemblance — across the space of the poem.”
The system works by automatically connecting certain words, sounds, and rhythms with different colored lines. This process is particularly useful for realizing formal patterns. However, I used Poemage for slightly different purposes. While such “sonic patterns” are important to a good close reading practice, I was more interested in tracking symbols visually.
Since Poemage allows the user to create a new line and manually connect certain words, I used it to look at where different symbols were placed throughout the poem. Because of my interest in abstract expressionism this line wasn’t only useful in close reading, but also as an artistic tool that helped me visually represent the poem as if it were an AbEx work of art. While this was not Poemage’s initial purpose, the way it was designed allowed me to use it for a different creative purpose. I am extremely indebted to Nina McCurdy and the Poemage team–without this program, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project or really flesh out the idea of “Spain” as an AbEx painting.
If you’d like to download Poemage or learn more about it, click here.
Many thanks also to Dr. Churchill, who included Poemage in a list of digital resources. It wasn’t until I saw Poemage that I came up with the idea for this project, so thanks, Dr. Churchill for allowing me to explore this!