Poets take up a new muse – modern technology

‘The poet’s muse is traditionally a goddess with long flowing hair, emblem in hand – but for a new generation of poets the muse is a digital native with WiFi access and an iPod. Tom Chivers is a 26-year-old poet living in East London who in recent years has found he wants to let technological advances in society influence his writing. His witty contributions to the poetic world are fresh, laugh-out-loud constructions about how technology affects our day-to-day lives.’

Article about poetry (mainly mine weirdly!) and digital technology by Hannah Waldram from The Telegraph. Check it out.


  1. poeticgrin says:

    I am very happy to see poets taking advantage of new technology. We should all ride this wave together.

  2. Rehan Qayoom says:

    You know this is a piece I can actually relate to.It supports my view that creativity is independent of mere ‘Upping the ante.’ In such cases where ignorance is but a shadow of bliss. The panther-prowled Muse stalks yet. She has been known to disguise herself into many innumerabilities (who dares refuse?), as a shark, an unmade bed, a sow, mare, bitch, vixen, she-ass, weasel, serpant, owl, she-wolf, tigress, mermaid, an oyster-tongued witch (there is photographic evidence) and now even google, txts and what not.

  3. Tom says:

    Thank you Rehan and poeticgrin. I would have liked to have said more – and more articulately – about writing and new technology, but of course it was just a short article. I think the journalist has captured my position fairly succinctly. One of the things I am fascinated by is the way that technology is changing the way we see ourselves, and the way we form identity – everything from addiction to social networking to the future of communications and digital technology embedded in the fabric of the urban landscape.

  4. Tom says:

    On the last point, I highly recommend a book called Placing Words: Symbols, Space and the City by William Mitchell.

  5. Dizmahn Jah says:

    It takes a certain sureness of spirit to steal ideas and use them as a foundation for the exercises in writing imaginary missives Chivers.

    I have (nearly) always found you a very cordial person, and admire what you are doing, even if when you first appeared, i couldn’t stand it. The new, the unknown, everything about the inward self that is negative and competitively unattractive, reared up in me on first reading you. Obviously because you are competent at what you do, and being a sad plastic paddy with plenty of ammo in the tank for others one instinctively feels have the intellectual and creative goods to shop further up the ladder in the poetry village – i was unhappy until it became evident you will probably reach the top rung, luckily after we got the Chivors and Dizman gang on the go. Blud clop mahn.


    Now, this missive to T, you helped me write. Assited in finding a way in to a space where the imaginary *you* is TC, a top cun..i mean cat who is and isn’t you. A polysemic Tom being two things at once. One who is Chivers of our shared order, in the UP your colleagues are in, the Union of People and bardic scuffer, a real person, but also a textual cipher with the capacity to fulfill an imaginary purpose within the mind of others who know you only through your doings on the page you have not experienced in reality.

    Forgive me if it all sounds awf, but the M in muse represents anything a logical rectilinear progression beckons onstage at the page (yo!) and can coax out with nought but a lexicon the addicted to dictionaries can speak of when stating what it is: Poetry?

    The first polysemic m in muse in one of our poetic traditions: Mnemosyne the second gen titanic daughter of Gaia and Uranus, earth and sky who poets and kings receive powers of authoritative speech from, according to this most lyric of Greek traditions.

    Memory is another m this muse represents and which most seriously flippant of colleagues desire to discover, along with her nine daughters at village poetry HQ, amenable to bestowing their attentions on us if we play our cards right in the relevent competion which awards tickets to their realm within (say) 50% of everbody.

    Another reason i nearly suggested to Fiona Sampson that she steal you from your girl or boyfriend, before chancing across some action myself with Erato and Euterpe in the PS cupboard at the imaginary open mic in e-mail night ten minutes ago, is because you believe Web 2.1 technology and virtual reality, makes us think about self identity and offers the challenge of exploring the eternal idea of Poetry (i am assuming) in the purest sense?


    I thought the Poem as bullet has some impressively original wordplay and a very visceral conceit.

    In the opening three words, we hit the scientifically proveable holy grail of contemporary poetic composition: two words which search engines return a zero on.

    A “typographic ruckus” – the indefinate article isn’t even needed to make this wholly unique, whilst also displaying two seperate star worthy attributes.

    1 – the two halfs of this whole are not opaque and present with great clarity an immediate visualisation in the mind of the reader, in a way other zero returns, such as ruckus typographic for example, do not.

    It fulfills the advice of an ancient authority who was also a practitoner: Horace – who advocates we arrange commonplace words adjacent to one another which make startling images.

    2 – The two words also fulfill a standard of practice which is a legacy of Larkin (and probably others), in that demotic and highblown speech is wrought within close proximity to one another.

    The observational narrator beginning his (our) journey in High Windows, begins with a gutter-like elegance of the yob, informing us in poetically unorthodox terms, that when his gaze envounters

    “..a couple of kids
    And guess he’s fucking her and she’s
    Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
    I know this is paradise.”

    As it stands, this is the speech of a person (narrating a poem) i am guessing most (and particularly female) poetry lovers may very well shy away from engaging with socially and certainly sexually.

    However, Larkin’s narrator manages to transcend the banal and seedy by transporting us to an aesthetic plane whose gravity counterbalances the inelegantly phrased opening. The pane of glass we imagine in the:

    sun-comprehending glass,
    And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
    Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless

    …has turned the narrator from a person the reader is forgiven for thinking of as cruising for frowzy feral thrills with slattern yoof cohabiters from a sleazy estate far, far exterior to the poetry village HQ we terminate at. S/he the narrator introduces him or herself with all the poetic grace and potential of Peter Sutcliffe would to those at top table in a Poetry Society annual orgy of ordered and precise recital, and by the times s/he departs, has tunred into Princess Sabina the poetry star, as Urania floating to the sky going places beyond what appears capable, from the demotic to majestic and into a highblown eternal state that comes on spotting in the fame game, the difference one letter, e-mail and missive can make lake Chivers me arl booty-knower of a standard I could have said was good, or complimented you on having talent, but didn’t until now because it is actually true i have a draft titled Chiver’s Mix on a memory stick, which is one of three (differently titled) in an ongoing project relating to material from last summer around at time I had just finsihed reading the autobiography of the man whose slave forenames were Cassius Marcellus – the Louisville Lip, Muhammad Ali, a shy Sufi poet who didn’t like any fuss and narrates:

    “This was not the first time Ronnie and I had entered a *whites only* place, just the first time as “home grown” Negroes. Once for Halloween, we had a seamstress make us a couple of African turbans and flowing gowns. We used them for months, to masquerade down town. We would speak “foreign” English and talk to each other in a fast home made language to get ourselves admitted to “white only” places as foreigners….

    The poem that I wrote on the plane had appeared that week in some of the..newspapers. She had it between the pages of her little book…..sat next to me at the counter

    “son keep the faith”

    she said prayerfully

    “such nice poems you wrote for our paper”

    Love and peace faith-keeper..”

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