A note from the editor
In the five years since I first had a chance to edit The New River, many things have changed for me. I graduated from Virginia Techâs creative writing MFA program, joined the VT faculty, and slowly returned to my roots in the digital world as a computer-mediated writer. I replaced my trusty black MacBook with a MacBook Air, and my beloved T-Mobile Sidekick with a BlackBerry, and then an iPhone, and continued to read anything and everything people on my Twitter and Facebook feeds threw my way.
Iâve tried my hand at Twitter fiction, written loads of picononfiction and micropoetry disguised as tweets, and workshopped poems in late night Facebook Messenger sessions. And Iâm now the Web Administrator of The New River, meeting with current VT MFAs serving as managing editors every semester to facilitate the process of moving an issue from idea to digital form to living breathing website. Iâm still hypertexting it up, yo.
Digital writing is very much a part of my life, from tweets I constantly read to apps I engage with on my iPhone to web-based work I view on the biggest monitors I can find (thank you Apple for the Thunderbolt monitor!). And judging from the works that constitute the Spring 2014 issue, digital writing is very much alive and kicking as demonstrated by authors across the globe.
One area of digital writing I personally find of much interest is mobile-based digital texts, such as apps, SMS writing, or web-based work designed for optimal viewing on smartphone or tablet devices. Mobile-based digital texts grab your attention through your device, pulling you into their literary world. Take Alan Bigelowâs intriguing âMy Life in Three Partsâ out for a spin on your iPhone or Android phone and youâll see what I mean.
Another area of digital writing that continues to gain notice is game-based works. One that caught my eye, âa short interactive narrative/gameâ collaboration between Andy Campbell and Christine Wilks titled âInkubus,â can be played in a web browser, or in standalone apps on a Windows or Mac OS X computer. In âInkubus,â the reader plays a teenage girl navigating her digital world, a highly interactive, fascinating, almost addictive challenge.
The always surprising, highly engaging, and occasionally controversial digital writing genre netprov makes an appearance via âMem-Eraze,â conceptualized by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig. âMem-Erazeâ at its heart is a reconstruction of lost digital images (âonline social scrapbooksâ hosted on the fictional Mem-or-Eaze Inc. servers and lost to offline catastrophes) using ordinary household objects. Scroll through the âMem-Erazeâ archives to find dozens of photographed memories re-created with all manner of items, from vodka bottles to hairbrushes to chocolate candies.
Friend of The New River Jason Nelson returns with "Camberland," an âinteractive creatureâ or an âinteractive poetic exploration of adventuringâ in collaboration with Alinta Krauth, in which the text follows you around the screen as you navigate through each section of the work, creating textual paths or activating sound clips in the wake of a cursor.
I am pleased to feature in this issue works from two emerging writers from City University of Hong Kong. Wendy, Mak Wing Lamâs âImage of Textâ incorporates a portion of the Book of Ezra as a way âto discover the hidden images from text and explore another way to read âtextââ as the words reform into abstractions with each mouse click. Lucien Lauâs e-poem âOur brains are designed for workâ draws the reader into a jarring, color splashed space in an attempt to âdescribe the chaos inside our mindsâ during stressful times.
In other news: I still do not enjoy rejection, but I do appreciate the time that the authors of this issueâs submissions took to reach out to me with their works. The process of reading through the submission queue brought back fond memories; itâs been a minute since Iâve rolled in Editor Mode, and I find I do miss it sometimes. A special note of recognition to the many undergraduates from City University of Hong Kongâs School of Creative Media who submitted work.
Much respect goes out to Ed Falco for the opportunity to edit The New River a second timeâand for his patience, as alwaysâas well as gratitude to Dr. Timothy Luke and my faculty colleagues in the Virginia Tech Department of Political Science for unwavering support. Shouts to Dr. Jeremy Hunsinger of Wilfrid Laurier Universityâs Department of Communication Studies for continuing to be a gentleman and a scholar. A tip of the cap to Jordan Fifer, a reporter at The Roanoke Times, for directing me to one of this issueâs contributors. And a thank you to Judson Abraham, a second-year graduate student in Virginia Techâs Political Science MA program, for keeping me on task this summer.
A note about the background photos accompanying this issue: the Moss Arts Center, a multi-million dollar arts & performance facility, opened on Virginia Techâs Blacksburg campus this past fall and quickly became part of my on-campus lifestyle, giving me regular opportunities to attend musical and spoken-word performances, gallery openings, or just pass by on my way to/from my office on the Upper Quad. Its striking architecture arrests my eye perpetually on the lookout for great beauty (a la the recent Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film) and doesnât let go, and sometimes on the walk back downtown from campus I find myself departing from my usual path to walk along the jagged concrete sidewalks lining the buildingâs front. These photographs, taken near dawn a few weeks ago, capture fragile moments between my campus life and my downtown life, when the rest of town is waking up and Iâm headed home to get some rest before getting back up and taking on another lazy/busy summer session day.
Wherever you may be out in this digital world, I send you my best wishes from the 16 Original Squares of Blacksburg, and I hope you enjoy this issue of The New River.