The true value of computation to close reading is still very much an open question. During a two-year design study, we explored this question with several poetry scholars, focusing on an investigation of sound and linguistic devices in poetry. The contributions of our design study include a problem characterization and data abstraction of the use of sound in poetry as well as Poemage, a visualization tool for interactively exploring the sonic topology of a poem.
The Poemage interface comprises three linked views: (left) the set view allows users to browse sets of words linked through sonic and linguistic resemblances; (middle) the poem view allows users to explore sonically linked words directly via the text; (right) the path view shows the sonic topology of a poem.
The visualizations could contribute to discussions regarding concrete or synesthetic’ poetry, which deliberately engage cross-modal perception [5, 31]; regarding reading and writing about text and image and about alphabetic signs as a basic digital technology that operates, already, on visual and aural/oral registers [5, 29]; or regarding how electronic digital (re)mediation further complicates semiotic and phenomenological questions through coding languages, hardware, and interface [38, 28, 22, 31]; etc
The issue, Axon Capsule 1: Poetry on the Move, 2015, highlighted Katharine Coles and her demonstration of Poemage as Poet-in-Residence at Poetry on the Move Festival 2015. In the article, Professor Coles poses questions the Poemage team set out to resolve, challenges presented and narrates the evolution of these questions and problems that resulted in the tool Poemage. She demonstrates the poetic elements Poemage analyzes and then visualizes through selected works of Louise Bogan, Emily Dickinson, Celia Zukofsky, and William Carlos Williams.
You can download the open source Poemage software at their website, which includes some technical information. After downloading the software be sure to read the "README.txt" text file. The software comes with a set of poems pre-loaded into the software for analysis. Users who have downloaded the software can load any poems of their choosing into the tool.
[Poemage in "Beautiful mess" mode]