Sherwood Publishes Digital Poem in International Anthology

Kenneth Sherwood (English, Co-director of Center for Digital Humanities and Culture) published the digital poem “Coal Code” in the peer-reviewed Electronic Literature Collection. Programmed in Javascript, the multi-media piece combines lyric voice tracks with an array of images reflecting upon and recyling stories and postcard images from nineteenth century coal culture in Pennsylvania. The web version of the work invites viewers to interact with the piece, shaping the aural and visual experience, changing the tempo, intensity, and shifting between the symmetry of “duet mode” and the the chaos of “random.”


The code poem was created by Sherwood as his contribution to a collaborative installation with IUP Art Professor Bob Sweeny hosted in the Kipp Gallery. Sherwood previously published a version of the text as a print-chapbook called Code of Signals

The editors of the E-lit collection write: “All elit works involve interaction with technology, which can occur at any stage in the process from conception to reception. Elit works, to some degree or another, incorporate: (1) literary qualities co-produced by human and algorithmic interaction; (2) formal and/or conceptual innovation; (3) a transforming experience for readers through expressive algorithms.”

An international scholarly non-profit, the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) published this anthology to feature an international range of works in the field, including 132 literary works from 42 author nationalities in 31 languages. The prior three editions of this anthology were published in 2016, 2011, and 2006. ELO editors explai: “E-literature . . . derive[s] meaning from a fusion of computational and literary layers. This fusion shows that human literary creativity entwines technological innovation with cultural and historic context.” (ELC 2022)

Prof Sherwood teaches special topics courses on Electronic Literature in the graduate program in Literature and Criticism at IUP and he designed the undergraduate ENGL 421 Digital Writing course. He also presented virtually on the teaching of E-lit to IUP Honors College students at the annual ELO conference this past summer.