Marko Niemi takes an interesting approach when creating his piece of electronic poetry called Stud Poetry. I found it to be completely distinct to all the other pieces of electronic and conceptual literature we have dealt with in class. Although we have already dealt with some that are structured like games, what makes Stud Poetry most interesting is the fact that one is gaining and loosing points. This aspect of the game made me more competitive and I wanted to play for longer. It is even structured like a competition, since one is playing against other “people,” who are undoubtedly not real because they are famous. One finds themselves playing against the literary figures: Paul Verlaine, Paul Valery, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, and Jean Moreas, which can even transform the game into something more exiting.
The best way to describe this game of electronic poetry is by calling it poker game, but instead of using cards one uses words. Each card dealt has a single word and in order to win, one has to create the strongest five word hand of poetry. For example, in one of the rounds I played, I had in my hand an “observe” black spade. The other words on the table were fresh, nature, afar, rich, and skin. As one can see, one is creating a five word hand poem composed of rather simple words. Although this changes the whole nature of the game, it is still structured in a similar manner to poker. One can bet, call, raise, check and fold just like in a real poker match. There is even a button that allows one to change the pace that the game is moving by.
Overall, the webpage is designed in clear manner, which allows people like me, who are not computer savvy to manage the website easily. It is arranged in a grid. The left column is titled Poets, which includes the list of actual imaginary poets one is playing against and you. The next column is titled Money, and shows you how many chips you have. One originally starts off with a hundred. Then you have the stake column followed by the hand column, which shows you what word card you have and directly next to it, some of the revealed cards from the competitors are shown.
This is an aspect of the game I liked because when dealing with many of the other electronic literature we have seen in class, I felt like I had a hard time maneuvering the webpage, not only because I am not computer savvy but also because the websites were sometimes not clear. For example, when exploring Sarah Bailey’s longer essay two poem called Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw, it was not made clear to me what I had to click. I know it was about exploring, but it would have made it more interesting if the author gave the player something to look for.
The only aspect of the poem that by nature is flawed is the fact that the assigned value of each word is flawed. Not only is this un-measurable because there is no established value for words, but it really changes the nature of the game. It is not really about making the best five word poetry hand as possible, it is more about just getting the five most valuable cards possible. Even if someone has a hand that makes more sense, and is better quality, does not mean the person is going to win. One can even get repeated worlds and win more points just because the card has more value. In this sense, one can see how the game follows the rules of poker more faithfully than the rules of poetry. This transforms the electronic poetry into purely just a game.
In conclusion, I think that Stud Poetry, as piece of literature, does not really have great value. It is not that Marko Niemi did not have an interesting idea in mind, but the fact that it is hard to assign numerical value to words, especially when being arranged up to a sentence of six, makes it hard to convert Marko’s idea into a piece with literary value. Overall, the best way to evaluate Stud Poetry is within the whole realm of electronic literature. In this perspective, I think Marko Niemi has presented an innovative idea and is demonstrating some of the paths electronic literature can take in the future. It pushes the boundaries in a way that other electronic literature has not done, and as a result I think that it aid electronic literature reach its fullest literary potential in the future. No matter what, Stud Poetry was still very interesting and fun to play.