Just as poets might use craft devices like humor, rhyme, or lineation to encourage heightened attention from readers, interactivity is another tool, and one that’s becoming increasingly prevalent. Here, interactivity is defined as “poetry whose design requires the reader not to merely receive the poem, but to collaborate or participate in its final form.” Learning why some poets choose this device can expand your notion of what’s possible on the page. To that end, we’ll explore poems that specifically invite the reader’s participation beyond merely reading— poems that fold, unfold, and sprawl across dimensions—in work by poets like Anne Carson, Leila Chatti, Jody Gladding, Tyehimba Jess, and others. Then we’ll try our hand at some of our own.
Lisa Zerkle’s poems have appeared in The Collagist, Southern Poetry Anthology, Nimrod, storySouth, and others. She was the creator and curator of 4X4CLT, Charlotte Lit’s public art and poetry series. In January 2023, she was awarded an M.F.A. in Poetry from Warren Wilson College.
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