Layout is not an area of poetry construction that I’ve paid much attention to in the decade and a half since I switched from writing them all in wine-coloured A4 exercise books to typing the sods into whatever word-processing software happened to work on whichever computer I was borrowing at the time. It didn’t really occur to me until very recently, watching the snippets of Richard Siken’s poetry pass by me on Tumblr like literary detritus on a flooded river of nonsense, that in order to preserve the precise formatting one could simply make the poem into an image.
I wrote this one at work, which meant that the only image manipulation software I had access to was MS Paint; logically I could just have written the thing in Word, taken a screencap, and pasted that into MS Paint, but I was at work and therefore all of my logic circuits were occupied trying to work out what the hell the students wanted (I work, currently, at a University in an admin role). So I wrote this into MS Paint, fiddled with the font repeatedly, and ended up back where I started with Arial. Font-fiddling is one side of unformatted straight-to-screen writing that I generally neglect because one never knows which fonts someone will have installed.
Making a poem into an image is quite useful if one wishes to be didactic about how it is viewed, because everything down to the font face is under one’s control, but as anyone using a screen-reader to access this page will be able to attest, it does decrease accessibility somewhat.
Throughout this month I will be nagging readers to donate to MSF