e-Lit Resource
The Iowa Review Web, "Instruments and Playable Text"

 The Iowa Review Web’s issue on “Instruments and Playable Text” (published in July 2008, guest edited by Stuart Moulthroup) features seven poetic and narrative works by six authors concerned with writing at the level of interface and code. The featured works (by Judy Malloy, John Cayley, Nick Montfort, Shawn Rider, Elizabeth Knipe, and the editor himself) all explore operations of permutation, chance, and remixing prompted by the reader’s actions. These programmed digital works invite readers to engage in the (literary) play indeed, reading and play in these texts are inseparable. Readerly actions include clicking on images and texts in Malloy’s Concerto for Narrative Data to invoke voices and texts to appear in various formations and juxtapositions. In Nick Montfort’s The Purpling, color-coding and clickable text chunks cause the poem to gradually change into different texts. John Cayley’s riverIsland employs navigation via images, via clickable icons, or by dragging QuickTime images, to access 32 poems reflecting on nature, translation, and language. Both Elizabeth Knipe’s activeReader and Shawn Rider’s two works, So Random and PiTP, invite the reader to enter texts of their own. Finally, Moulthrop’s polyphonic Under Language mixes written text with spoken words and sounds as the reader clicks on the interface’s icons and texts. In this work, as in Cayley's riverIsland, sounds and spoken words also engage the reader as a listener. Different kinds of play, interaction, and participation are juxtaposed with the more standard ways of intellectually engaging with a literary work. Along with the works, The Iowa Review Web issue includes an editor’s introduction and statements by many of the featured artists/authors.