Last published project : WORD SHELTER RESIDENCY, Oct-Nov 14, 2023

Until November 14, 2023, I was the resident writer for The Dirt Palace’s Wedding Cake House Word Shelter.

My final piece for the Word Shelter was ‘uchaf.’ This piece derives from a couple of original quatrains that I made during the summer of 2023, high on coastal uplands in north Wales. Here, they are permuted and explored for the Shelter. (And soon I will make a webapp version, one that will follow the temporal rhythms of my reading voice.) The title of paired quatrains and this dynamic version is Welsh for ‘highest.’ They are dedicated to dear friends at Penrallt-uchaf and also to all of us living in Rhode Island, since certain aspects of the landscapes (although not the uplands) resonate.

My second piece for the Word Shelter, installed October 15, was a version of sifther, first created as a webapp in 2020 and then subtitled ‘our fall’. sifther uses all the conventional possessive and objective English pronouns with paired nouns that have (sub)litteral differences, and verbs that evoke the nine affects. Its changes are continual and minimal, sometimes only a single letter. This version, for the Shelter, has a few more noun pairs.

My first piece for the Shelter, ‘passing thoughts’, is now moved to a webapp, in a version that does not use the colors of the Shelter’s flapper-board but retains a visualization of split-flap-like transitions, although these are, in my terms, transliteral morphs.

For the record, ‘passing thoughts’ is an augmented version of the initial Shelter installation, which I called ‘don't think’. Its permutations are a little more elaborate and sometimes, I find, a little more ‘thoughtful’ but are still related closely to the poem that inspires and generates them.

The Word Shelter can be controlled remotely and the pieces I am making for it are all dynamic. When invited by the Wedding Cake House to the residency I wasn't sure about what was possible. For the launch of the Shelter, I was asked for a single text to fit into its 6-line x 22-character display. I chose a couplet from “Passing Thought (one of nine)” by Du Fu (712-770) that I translated, long ago, for my first book. It was the second couplet of this quatrain …

second month once broken third month begins
relentless time how many springs still to be passed?
don’t think world beyond thoughts are endless
but drink death before wine to the last

… which I set out like this:

don’t think world beyond thoughts are endless but drink death before wine to the last

For my first installation the Shelter showed a dynamic version of the whole quatrain, its translated text slightly adapted. The display cycled. One or other couplet was shown at the beginning of a cycle. Then, in an order shuffled for every iteration, each of the six part-lines from one couplet was replaced by the corresponding part-line in the other until, for a short time, the other couplet was displayed in its entirety. Colors (those available to the display) are associated with the part-lines: red to purple for the first couplet; purple to red for the second. The cycles of the current piece are a little more complex.

More short dynamic pieces to come. Please keep watching this space.