Stephen Allard, Poetic Practices in Digital Spaces

We are pleased to welcome Stephen Allard to the Faculty of Media and Communication. Stephen was one of two recipients of the fully funded studentships advertised this summer and he joins us having recently completed his masters at Plymouth University.  Stephen will be supervised by Dr Bronwen Thomas, Dr Janice Denegri-Knott and Dr Sam Goodman.

Outline of Stephen’s Project

This project aims to investigate to what extent the new interactive possibilities of digital spaces, especially social media sites such as YouTube and Instagram, are creating an evolution in both conceptualizations and practices of creative writing from authors and their audiences. Poet and ‘Uncreative Writer’ Kenny Goldsmith, as part of the collaborative provocation Against Expression, asserts that ‘Faced with an unprecedented amount of available digital text, writing needs to redefine itself to adapt to the new environment of textual abundance.’ (2010). In the wake of this new textual abundance, poets such as Shane Koyczan and Kate Tempest on YouTube, to Lang Leav and Rupi Kaur on Instagram, are rising to notoriety through a rejection of more conventional forms of page poetry, towards a more collaborative and interactive synthesis of writing and media format within digital spaces.

These poets, using a hybrid of spoken word, image, and poet personae, are now not just passively posting work, but using social media to create an on-going and interactive poetic conversations made up of a symbiotic relationship between creative writing and audience interactions. Through comments, shares, and likes on digital media platforms, audiences become interactive poetic collectives, fragmenting, sharing, and extending the reach of the initial work. This results in a piece of creative writing which is a collective synthesis of creative-writing, poetic-personae, and audience comments, blurring more traditional boundaries between writers and their audiences. It will explore to what extent these poets blending of creative practice and interactive audience, within these socially driven digital spaces, is a realization of writing’s need for redefinitions in Goldsmith’s age of ‘textual abundance’, and by extension a kind of abundance in the possibilities of digital social connection.