Individual Work
That Night I Saw on My Homeward Way

Steve Ersinghaus states right on the opening page, just below the title of That Night I Saw on My Homeward Way, that this is a "poem in versions." What better way to describe the nature of hypertext than as a version, since each trail chosen will bring new insight into the piece? One reading will never be the same as the next, whether first readings by several readers or several readings by a single reader.

This poem is more essence, more fleeting as is inherent in poetry and yet the hypertext format emphasizes that vulnerability, that idea that comes like a starburst and leaves wisps in its place as it passes. Ersinghaus employs the use of stretchtext, a method by which a link will not bring the reader to a new page of text, but rather create a body of text that appears in place on the page. This reinforces the ethereal, transitory element of the poem. It is a surprise, a gift to the reader that he receives as reward for his choice of link. Stretchtext seems to appear like a ghost in the present environment—the page of the story. It does not force the reader to leave the prior page behind. Even so, as a serious coder, Steve Ersinghaus is also a true poet and each stanza is as carefully planned as the form and use of links. In his words: "As hypertext, That Night is read as an intrinsically linked work, meaning that the poem can’t be read beyond more than one node without recourse to its links. It’s physically coded, materially mathematical, a computed artifact. Links are also, beyond their structural code, a poetic devise. This non-trivial characteristic is a persistent potentiality in digital expression."

The language of That Night is an example of skill and spirit turning words into beauty. From the opening, "I saw an old voice/ drop into the soft black/ hush of the sea." there is imagery that is filled by nature and relative joy in the known as we're guided through an unknown, unreal world. But there is the magic of the twist of words that create images rich in movement such as this: "the wind picks/ at her hair." 

The visual properties of text, as enhanced by the power of hypertext, are further fine-tuned by the color choices for background, text, and link. Warm taupe, cool earthy blue-greens, all selected for presentation that suit the poetics. That Night I Saw on My Homeward Way is a pleasure to read, an invitation to wallow in a new world of words.