For my thesis, I plan to do a digital poetry project centered around Allen Ginsberg and his emerging status as a writer in the Beat Generation. A lot of what I want to do is inherently inspired by Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, in that Ondaatje utilizes unique and interesting multimodal techniques to build up the character of Billy. It plays with perspective, truth, and voice, as well as other postmodern themes and concepts. The collection of poems all focus on Billy and his world, and fleshes out the realm in a way that seems very intimate for the reader. With that being said, Allen’s world is also like that – his poetry is rooted in being very honest and personal with his audience, and is all about throwing in the people and places in his life without giving any context whatsoever. His poetry does not care and does not ask for the reader to know who Peter is – it just wants the reader to accept that Peter is there.
With that being said, I make a collection of poetry that does the same for Allen. I want to build up the Beat world, with no prior knowledge needing to be known – I want the reader to be engaged, regardless of the context. Additionally, I want it to be done in a digital space. I think having the thesis as a digital poetry project is important in the storytelling aspect of it, because digital spaces allow for interdisciplinary elements and techniques. I want to incorporate audio, visual, transitions, hypertext navigation, and an overall cyclical feel to the world, as opposed to any traditional linear storytelling methods. I will use primary letters, poems, drafts, text, and photos to build the authenticity of the world, and have them present throughout the piece of digital poetry.
The significance, ultimately, is going to be one that is personal to me, as well as other writers. I want to focus particularly on Ginsberg from the 1940s-1950s, and his emergence as a writer. Unlike many people, Ginsberg seemed to have a lot of self-confidence – at least on the outside, anyways. I want to explore his psyche, explore his insecurities, as he launches himself to be the figurehead of such a distinct literary movement. I want to illustrate his frustrations and worries with faux rough drafts, which in themselves become apart of the poetry collection. I also want to write “fake” poems from his voice, as well as voices from others, to add to what was happening in his world, and what was happening with his writing. Maybe it was his jealousy over Kerouac’s success, or depressed writer’s block because of his failed love affair with Neal. Ultimately, I want to tell Ginsberg’s story, maybe taking some fictional liberty with his character, to explore the journey of becoming a writer, and maybe how that also parallels to my own journey, too.