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Hyperpoetry: The Route Throughout

The Route Throughout, hyperpoetry by Chris Girard

The Route Throughout is a long epic poem self-published on a paper zine in 2003 and turned to web browser-based hyperpoetry a decade-or-so later.

Zine to Hypertext…

The paper zine was originally Google translated from a French poem, then collaged, then written, then rewritten in 2003 to 2005. Then it was republished again in 2010 and 2017. The results were originally made as a script for an experimental documentary that was never filmed. In 2005, the poem was self-published into a zine. Copies were distributed to bookstores on Valencia Street in San Francisco like Dog Eared Books and Modern Times Books.

Years later, I found the zines collecting dust in a box and began to look through the few paper copies I have left, and decided to publish it online.

The Route Throughout, Excerpt of Hypertext by Chris Girard

I embedded into the poem the filmic directions of the original script that have never been included before as an interactive element of the poem. Like TRY ME., revealing the process of how the poem was envisioned through hyperlinks is an important part of the interaction with the poem. I also included all of the surrealist photography I photographed. I scanned from a film scanner and incorporated into the paper version of zine. The black lines in some of the photo series denote the spaces between negative images.

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A Code Poem: Gestalt

Gestalt is a code poem collaged and made on Max.

Code Poem / Collage Poetry

Gestalt is a code poem created by using a collage of the codes that constitute and run the visual programming language Max/MSP/Jitter from Cycling ’74.

You can download the Max/MSP/Jitter patch from my website here: (12.6 MB)

Technical Aspects

In order to play it, either you have Max or you may download a free trial of Max/MSP/Jitter on the Cycling ’74 downloads page, here. If you’re not interested in creating your own projects with Max/MSP/Jitter, you may also download Max Runtime which is freeware that doesn’t include editing capabilities. Max Runtime is on the right hand side of the downloads page, under “Extras.”


When I first was introduced to Max during a demonstration for a DANM orientation at UC Santa Cruz in early 2008, I was enraptured by the architectural structure of white boxes and cables. I relish the memory because I don’t remember anything else about the program nor what it was supposed to do.

At the forefront of what I still find interesting about Max/MSP is still this visual aspect of code. The code is set in a myriad of uniform and white rectangles interwoven to form an architectural substructure of boxes connected to cables or black lines. They go to a hierarchical box that represents the focal point of Max/MSP. About 200 predefined object codes not only mimic the visual and aesthetic interface of Max, but function as a poem and run the program that streams ‘poetry’. Elements embedded into the program like the sound filter and the background color visually demonstrate how the evolving imagery can be interwoven into poetry.

Code As Code

The fragments of code function with the power to output and edit another a program that streams poetry through a structure of cables that connect to make noise. In other words, what I did was collage the objects with other objects and connect some objects within the poem to external outputs. The code is edited to run in slow motion with a filter to further obstruct the voice into an inaudible one. This is so that the sound aids in the inflection of the visual poem and not distract it. I wove together predefined object codes in an attempt to create a seamless collage to mimic a visual and an aesthetic interface like Max that will function as a poem and also run a program.

The playback with media unfolds provocative allusions to programming from a slow disjointed poem. It reflects the absurd digital kitsch of which the object the code is creating. All of the words that constitute the poem are from about 200 predefined object codes. The elements of this project like the sound filter and the background color are unnecessary but demonstrate code as poetry.

I believe that Max/MSP could be provocative within the context of what the viewer is not supposed to see, hear nor interact with. The visual perspective of Max/MSP is troublesome because as a visual tool, the systematic and architectural structures of the boxes are more visually appealing to me than function of boxes as output.

Max/MSP as Visual Interface

The ease of using Max/MSP is through its visuals. Max/MSP’s visual layout offers similarities to futurist poetry over a century ago in terms of direction and output. Futurist poets explored the ways of reading poetry similar to a current of electricity flowing in several directions. A futurist poem intermingles and connect to several boxes in different directions function similarly to a these cables.

As the poem entitled Gestalt reads from left to right and downward with each line break, the cables that connect this poem simultaneously traverse from the poem to its output. Gestalt is an object code and also means a collection of entities that creates a unified concept, which is greater than the sum of its parts. How poetry and code can fundamentally be explored through its semantic structure is with language as symbols for commands that have the power to create a representation of programming as poetry.

Max/MSP as Visual Art

I believe Max/MSP excels with music and music with the aid of external electronics but I am left unconvinced that the program is suitable for dialectically accomplishing more than the equivalent of a computer screensaver. Peter Elsea advised me to implement in my poetry in a colorful 3D display of traveling text in standing gravity with point perspective.

I thought about the dancing sentence and how it could be written with so many codes is really limiting to the exploration of text itself. While the dancing sentence follows a serious digital kitsch movement in interactive poetics, which pokes fun at mainstream Internet culture and its overuse of bright neon colors and revolving texts, this kind of enticement is not my cup of tea. What I tried to accomplish with Max was to show aesthetics of code and partly with the program’s interface that isn’t used or shown in art.

The code structurally represents how the poem can be recreated. Similarly, the evolving imagery is a visual representation of poetry in its composition and movement. Each box represents a single still image as part of a series like film stills to a moving image. The random fading in and out of imagery is to show a visual connection between the compositions of the imagery.

The inspiration for the visual and audio portion of this project, which I created on Soundtrack Pro is filmmaker Hollis Frampton. Hollis Frampton inspires me because his video cutups, specifically from his film Palindrome, represent a fragmentation of frame stills to achieve a dialectic result, like poetry, between each still. What he did in Palindrome was weave the ends of several filmstrips to create an abstract film of different shapes. Both of our cut-ups represent a disembodiment of its original form.

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A Book of Hypertext Poems: TRY ME.

TRY ME. Hypertext poetry from spam by Chris Girard

A Hypertext Book

The hypertext book of poems, entitled TRY ME., can be viewed here.

Spam, or more colloquially known as unsolicited junk email, is collaged to create this series of hypertext poems. I collected spam over the course of an eight month period and then began working the magic. Embedded passages of literature are therefore found in the spam. The original spam emails are rearranged and collaged with the embedded literature to form a new and hybrid poem.

I kept all of the words from the original literature in the process of collaging the poems that constitute TRY ME. Literary excerpts include J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.


While an anagram is the rearrangement of letters from a given word or phrase to another, a lexical anagram is the rearrangement of a lexicon or words from one given body of text to another. I employed a ‘lexical anagram’ as a binding constraint to conjoin the writing of this digital book of poems. This conjoining of words means that all of the words from the source body are woven into the new one.


Hypertext page excerpt of TRY ME by Chris Girard
A reader interacts with TRY ME. by clicking on a series of hyperlinks that appear on each new page. Each hyperlink changes the context and meaning of the preceding poem. Text blinks and moves throughout the page to modify how each of the poems is read on subsequent pages. The poems are displayed in chronological order from which the spam was found. The original date shows the date in 2006 from which the spam was retrieved.

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Collage Poem – Henry’s Body: A Thousand Hacks

Collage Poem taken from John Berry

Henry’s Body: A Thousand Hacks is an audio collage poem made from the all the words taken from poet John Berryman’s reading of his poem Dream Song 29. The project consists of an audio collage from a 1970s recording of confessional poet John Berryman’s drunken reading of his poem Dream Song 29. It was cut up using SoundTrack Pro.

This poem, also known as Poész, constitutes part of a collaborative project with Algerian artist and fellow MFA in Digital Arts and New Media at UC Santa Cruz cohort Lyés Belhocine. Stanzas of the collaged poem are randomized by MAX/MSP/Jitter to sequentially play audio in five and seven syllables.

Henry’s Body:
A Thousand Hacks

Clicking here will let you view the PDF version of how I organized the text collage of John Berryman’s Dream Song 29 as an ordinary stanzaic poem.

This two minute video of the poetry reading offers you to listen to the cut-up poem and read my iteration of the audio collage of John Berryman’s reading of Dream Song 29.

This is a screenshot of the MAX/MSP/Jitter program that was built to play the stanzas on multiple speakers.

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Ten and One Left: 11 Line Poems

From Ten and One Left, 11 Line Poems by Chris Girard

Ten and One Left is a 64-page series of 11 line poems taken and collaged from my old LiveJournals from 2001 to 2004. This book constitutes two years of my MFA studies at Otis College of Art and Design and is the practice component of my MFA thesis from 2008.

Ten and One Left is viewable in its entirety as a downloadable PDF. It offers a look into the compilation of my poems.

11 Line Poems

Poetry on Yelp by Chris Girard

Ten and One Left, the series of eleven-line poems, is collaged from my old LiveJournals. These LiveJournal usernames are quietness and qu, and were used from 2001 to 2004. Like the nonsensical or cryptic tags that are often embedded into blog posts, I reposted the poems onto social reviewing websites including Yelp. As a result, the poem lived on Yelp for eight and a half years until it was deleted by Yelp admins in 2016.

Symbol of Eleven

As part of my MFA thesis at Otis College of Art and Design, a baby Ars Poetica of mine details my philosophy about the eleven line poems. I explored the meaning of eleven. While eleven is imperfect in its quantity, 11 (two ones) is perfect at face value.

Eleven is a symbol for the imperfect and yet is a symmetrical number that has a symbolic relationship with the exterior like an outsider and the spectacle of a crowd. The number eleven is derived from the old english word Endleofan. It literally means ten and one left or the base of one plus a second element.

While the poems are subservient to a number of lines, they explore obstruction. The obstructiveness repurposes the former poems by the illustration and change of a public text’s exposure. The texts which inspire the set of poems are read by a plural audience to experience a feeling of homogenized familiarity. The feeling of disconnection resounds in the subsequent poem. And it evokes a thought or emotion set in false pretenses. The struggle is to make ephemeral texts durable by collaging a lyrical cadence of paradoxes.