To visit www.drunkenboat.com
by Ravi Shankar
Drunken Boat (www.drunkenboat.com), an online journal of the arts, is dedicated to showcasing the best of more traditional art forms such as poetry, prose, criticism and photography, alongside works of art endemic to the medium of the web, such as sound, video, hypertext and digital animation. We are also committed to the egalitarian ideal of making works of art readily accessible to the widest possible audience.
The idea for the journal was engendered a few years ago when my good friend Michael Mills and I were lamenting the impermeable and provincial sensibilities of most artistic institutions in the most “open” city in the world. We had both come out of M.F.A. programs in New York City – he as a visual artist, I as a poet – and were on a rooftop one evening, part plotting, part commiserating about what possibilities lie ahead. During the course of our conversation, we decided to birth a journal and having no benefactor, no viable means of sustenance, there was little question about what medium it would be in: the web.
The questions conferred by printed work on its creator – how do you get the journal to as many people as possible? how do you recoup the money put into its production? how do you deal with errata once the work has been published? – are nearly nonexistent in the electronic medium. For a minimal hosting fee and a workmanlike knowledge of html, a biannual font of dynamism could be easily implemented. Instead of the two-dimensional world of static text and stilled image, the web allowed a multi-dimensional world of movement, sound, interstice and interactivity. The reader, in a meaningful way, became an active participant in the production of meaning, and possibilities for both form and content were radically augmented. For the first time in publishing history, it was possible to co-opt a mass media, publishing sound artists alongside cyber directors, poets alongside photographers, and we tried to keep this principle of variety in mind when our first issue (Summer/Fall 2000) went online.
Our last issue, #4, comes on the heels of a large, multifarious ethnopoetics issue (#3, archived at: www.drunkenboat.com) and it includes some of Isabelle Hayeur’s photographs from the series Uncertain Landscapes, a Robert Smithson-like appraisal of the intersection of aesthetics with the non-sites of bleak industrial landscapes www.drunkenboat.com/db4/hayeur/hayeur.html/ We also include some interactive, multi-sound environments created by Stanza, http://www.drunkenboat.com/db4/stanza/soundscraper/intro.html and a sinuous hypertext The Silence of Noise, created by writer Mark Swartz, animator May Lin and digital musician Renick Bell, http://www.drunkenboat.com/db4/salt18/salt18.html. Jonathan Minton, a poet, uses algorithms to generate an infinity of new poems that refresh every ninety seconds at http://www.drunkenboat.com/db4/minton/minton.html, and another poet in Drunken Boat, Sue Kwock Kim recently won the Walt Whitman Award for her first book of poems http://www.drunkenboat.com/db4/kim/kim.html.
Paul Stephens, a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, raised the most controversy in his review of Billy Collins www.drunkenboat.com/db4/stephens/stephens.html, which in turns is comic and in turns caustic. Though my own views are not perfectly aligned with Stephens, I felt the questions he raised about the complexities of being both an academic and a public poet were quite germane, and as expected, reader response has been very polarized. We’ve put up some of the correspondence between Stephens and our readers on the site.
The next issue should be out in the end of August. In the meantime, we continue to rely on your support and interest, and being a newly minted non-profit agency we, your donations are tax-deductible. Keep your ear to the ground about future events as well, such as collaborations between poets and filmmakers and a cross-coast performance broadcast over the web.