Author's Note

The idea for "Turning Away" came from my experience with creating animated GIFs. I was struck by the notion of using text instead of images to create a reading experience that would transcend the immutability of traditional text. The actual mechanics of the poem are simple enough. Each line is an animated GIF looping through a series of four variations. I manipulated the amount of time each line displayed before it changed in a random fashion so that the lines did not change at the same times, thus creating a poem that was constantly shifting in its arrangement of the three lines. The reason I chose a haiku stanza as the form of the poem was twofold: first, I realized the necessity of a poem short enough for the eye to comprehend in its entirety; too many lines would simply be impossible to keep up with if two or more of them were changing at the same time. Second, I have always been drawn to the epiphanic quality of the haiku. I was fascinated with the idea of creating a poem in which one epiphany evaporated into another epiphany, one intuitive sensation "turned" into another, the way that the perception of a hillside might change as it was transformed by the light and shadow of passing clouds, or the way the still surface of a pond might be transfigured by wind and light.

The difficulty in writing the poem was in creating twelve lines which would not only be coherent in any combination but also different from one another. It would be simple enough to create a scene which changed only physically, but it is another matter altogether to coax diametrically opposite meanings from the different formations.

I am not too sure how comfortable I am with this lengthy explanation of my intentions. It may be wholly possible that the poem is working for certain readers in totally different ways, and that possibility is the beauty of using the computer as a tool of creation. Hypertext is certainly a powerful new tool.

--Curtis Harrell