Writing with String

“Strings” by Dan Waber

An exploration by Kathleen Flynn


This piece is a collection of simple poems which use an string to depict hand written words. The movement of the piece combined with the title of each short piece is supposed to illustrate a particular feeling. In a couple of the poems there are multiple strings with handwritten words that move through the screen. However, the poems I found to be most powerful all remained on a single string with the words changing from one to another. The first poem is as simple as two words, yes and no, moving from one end of the string to another. The name of this piece is Argument 1. In an extremely simple way, the author manages to evoke the feelings of an argument, yet he only uses two words.

I think what makes this collection of poems work as well as they do is the use of the handwriting. Had the author taken the same words and had type flash on the screen, or move around the screen in the same way the poems do in each piece, the words would have lost a lot in their meaning. This piece has a strong sense of what it wants to say and how it wants the reader to react. The imagery of this piece is not only visually active, but causes the reader to create and relate to their own thoughts of what an argument is, or what flirting is. One of the strongest poems in this sense is the one titled “Arms.” The string starts with the word your and then moves to arms, then it changes into a circle, finally ending with the word me. For me this poem read “your arms around me” and I thought that this was a very fascinating way to say something simple and meaningful while not having to give away all of the details.

Most of the poems stick with using just the words yes, no, and maybe. However, the poem “Arms” I mentioned before shows a very unique way to express a hug using only three words. My favorite of the poems in this piece is called “Poidog.” The single string changes from one word to the next, with smaller strings flying in when they are needed to create letters like i and t. It is a single sentence, but to me it captures a lot about language and writing. The sentence reads, “Words are like strings that I pull out of my mouth.” Not only is this a beautiful sentence, it gives clarity to the entire collection of poems shown in this piece. Again, it uses simple words to say a lot. When I read this and saw the string combine with the words to create this poem it made me smile. Simple yet powerful, this one sentence poem says everything the author was trying to show in his collection of poems.

I think that this piece would be very helpful for people trying to enter into the field of e-literature because it shows how changing something as simple as the way the words are presented can create a whole new idea for art. The use of handwriting in this piece I found to be a unique and interesting way to show a range of emotion which the reader has to search harder for at times in traditional poetry. Also the handwriting makes the piece more powerful than if it were typed. I learned that just because it is electronic does not mean that you have to use the traditional type written letters to create words, and that if you don’t it might take you to fun new places.


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