by Jaka Železnikar
My literary practice is not one off the main-stream. I’m interested in combination of poetry and programming, thus in the field of an extended understanding of literature. I’m active mostly on-line, since 1997 when I published my first work of interactive on-line poetry, ‘Interaktivalija/Interactivalia’, https://www.jaka.org/1997/int/int.htm (in Slovene and English, strangely mostly still functioning even on todays technology), both as a 3 1⁄2-inch diskette and as a web site.
Though, I started in a classical way, at least for my generation (born 1971) and geo-location (city of Ljubljana) , with a book of poetry – and some short stories in 1994 (‘54.000 besed’, in Slovene – ‘54.000 words’, to translate the title). Then I came across with the Internet at a faculty I was attending – which was all but progressive in terms of technology. There was, the Internet, in a ‘god-forsaken’ room with a computer and a Lynx installed on a really lousy old computer with black and orange display – the Internet trough the command line. The room that I found by chance. Or by my interest in all things not in a plain sight, perhaps. As it was concrete poetry and its many outlets originating in around 1950s and up to about 1970s. (That was not part of my official academic curriculum, though trough 1980s in then Yugoslavija, there was an influential art alternative – as opposed to state based art – an movement based on historical avant-gards combined with ‘new media’, including video and computers, as available at the time, to be brief.)
Some negotiation was necessary with the otherwise most helpful librarians at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana to even find the works of extended vision of literature and poetry of the past (withs some more welcoming venues in Ljubljana, centered around ‘Bežigrajska galerija’ gallery).
But then – it was love at first sight. Both, the Internet at the time and all this mostly forgotten poetry – in times when Yugoslavia was already falling apart in an unfortunate, ugly, bloody and unnecessary war based on nationalisms and escape from totalitarian political situation.
It seemed an interesting way to combine those two, the currently happening Internet revolution on one hand and poetic approaches of the past, based in historical avant-gards and later going-ons on the other hand (mostly as the concrete based poetry &+ seemed to be more in tune with capabilities of computer – generative, combinatory, algorithmic expression, relating also to media traversal). That seemed to be, at least for me, more in tune with my reality at the time as other going-ons of the most of contemporary (Slovene) poets (not that I don’t appreciate work of more traditional, book oriented poetry).
So, as time unfolded, I did poems and works of e-literature (electronic literature) in form of a web page/site(s), e-mails on demand, Firefox add-ons, and a robot (and some books and e-books as well).
Some of my work is meant to be read not only by direct text available but rather in fabric of contextual relations the work establishes towards poetry, web technology, related culture and society in general. I find this ‘meta-reading’ an important part of my work (as well as a specific trouble in possible readings and archival attempts).
I keep an archive on a rather poorly maintained web page of mine at jaka.org, I apologize for that. To that, most of my poetic work is by now technologically obsolete. But some of it is still, at least partially, available at this URL).
Fast forward to now, November 2018 – I’m partly concerned with archiving/updating/documenting of some of my older work. My future poems, if they will appear, are still unknown to me. Probably different from the ones by now. But with this roots.