Damian Lopes’s Sensory Deprivation/Dream Poetics is the digital version of a print-based book and the most a reader can do to engage with the visual poems therein is to navigate an unmarked and maze-like website. Lopes approaches this issue in a way that forces readers to evaluate not just how they approach and engage with poetry but also how to engage with digital text and with websites in general. After the reader is instructed to “watch where you point that thing,” the reader at first unknowingly and then with difficulty and some degree of confusion navigates through Sensory Deprivation by hovering their cursor over selections of the images, challenging our usual point-and-click way of navigating web pages. Because the hover points in these poems are unclear and the pages change quickly, engaging with Sensory Deprivation can give the illusion that the reader has no control or understanding of how the pages move/turn even though it is their cursor that creates this movement after all.
The poems in Sensory Deprivation are, for the most part, fairly typical visual/concrete poems especially in relation to the history of Canadian visual or concrete poetics (including a map of Canada filled with the words “our stolen native land”), but what is really fascinating and important about Sensory Deprivation is the way that it reconsiders reader engagement with the digital text.
This digital companion to the print book was developed as a part of Lopes's initiative with Coach House to digitize their frontline, which not only provided digital versions of print books (that are more complex and more informed by new media poetics than ebooks or PDFs) but also included some born-digital work, such as W. Mark Sutherland's Code X (see ELD entry).