Individual Work

José Aburto is a Peruvian poet who developed Grita, a digital work originally available on the author's website on the tab “Orales” and then selected to be part of the Electronic Literature Collection 3. The work, developed in Adobe Flash, is a generative digital poem that emerges only through the sound of the user's voice and by them being filmed by a webcam (previously authorized by the user). It is a performative work made in 2005, which calls for collaboration and interaction of those who consume it, “to be written” through their shouts. As soon as the user opens this digital poem, they will find a red screen, with a single word in capital letters on it: GRITA.

“Grita” means “shout!” in Spanish and this imperative action suggested in the title is a condition that generates the work itself and requires the “reader/user” to experiment with their voice with ever-increasing urgency. How can these shouts be heard by others that are in close proximity to those who produce it? For the poem to exist, something stimulating has to happen, something related to our own bodies that has been repressed by socialization, and this is why this is considered a performative poem. The voice of those who want to read the poem is the materiality required for making the poem appear. Poet and reader perform a fusion to generate the poem searching for the primeval shout. Shouting and poetry seem to speak to the human condition, the primal link that gives place to a Babel of languages.

It is remarkable that the translation of the initial and external, organic cry, by the machine is always transformed into a poem in Spanish. Certainly, we do not find in this technopoesis any allusion to a specific nation, but there is a reference to the power of Spanish nowadays, suggesting a Latin-American zone that makes the poem’s performance possible. Traditions, conquests, revolutions: the cry is the way to express the primal articulation of words, the red color of the interface, the imperative that tells us what to do with the work. The poem welcomes the cries of those who come as guests searching for this refuge, and although the results are always in Spanish, this language is hospitable to anyone who wants to experiment with it.

Something interesting to say about this work is that it is part of a webpage called, the tagline of which is “La poesía cambió de estado” (“Poetry changed its condition” [our translation]). Regarding this phrase, we could think that Grita, as much as many others of Aburto´s works, is looking for a transformation in the current way of making poetry: the material of the poem (orality, writing, drawing), the performance of readers/users, the interaction, the generativity, the listening, the form acquired by the poem. In the repetition of those silent cries of our contemporary urbanized society, Aburto recovers an organic form of words that suggest the universal sense of poetry as a common language.