For the first time, since the first man uttered a narrative, writers have the opportunity to break free of time-bound story structures in a form available to an ever-growing audience. I am speaking of hypertext on the world wide web. There should be reasons for writers to mount the nearest rise and gaze upon this brave, new world, and I can think of at least two. The first reason is that Everesterian response: because it is there. The second reason is that hypertext allows writers and poets new freedoms and responsibilities in dealing with the most fundamental consideration in creating patterns of language, be they traditional or driven by technological advances, and that consideration is the creation of a form that will illuminate the content. Following are a few of my intentions in the creation of this poem and how I believe the hypertextual framework offers unique and new ways of dealing with poetic content.
Poems, because they differ from prose in the use of broken lines, have always dealt with the motion of the mind. I have tried to take that notion a step further by creating a reading experience that mimics one particular motion of the mind: the dream. I have tried to draw in readers, make them a part of the poem's experience, by having them search with the cursor for the individual stanzas as they are hidden on a black page. The order in which readers discover the lines of the poem is unimportant because, as in dreams, readers will strive to order the lines into their own narrative.
I have structured the poem very deliberately to mimic that dream logic. The poem contains three distinct narrative threads: a father plays hide and seek in the backyard with his daughter, a father endeavors to free a sparrow caught in tomato netting in the garden as his daughter fretfully watches, and a father reads to his daughter from a rather unique book of fairy tales. It is possible to experience each of these threads in their entirety and in a proper narrative order, if the reader chooses the right links (every line or image in the poem is a link), just as sometimes people will have a dream which is coherent and easily understood. However, some of the links in each of the threads are programmed randomly. The reader will jump back and forth among the narratives, experiencing something rather more like nightmare: bits and pieces of reality are apparent, but their connections are shadowy and vague. Instead of a clear narrative, a mood is established, and readers, naturally, since humans are fundamentally narrative-driven creatures, will struggle to create their own narratives from the jumbled shards.
At least I hope that is what happens. Like Dr. Frankenstein's experiment, this one may gather a life of its own, totally separate from me. Anyway, let's walk together, into this new territory, eyes and minds wide open.