This is the end of the published interview, but the . read conversation continues below.

For more details I ♥ E-Poetry entry: http://iloveepoetry.com/?p=5414

and be left with literature, with a recognition of the differences in media and genres. At its heart, literature is about the art of written language, language in digital media is primarily written, so the field is not going away. It is becoming increasingly hybrid in its relation to other arts, so maybe we'll drop the literature part, but I don't think so, at least not until we develop reliable memory in our brains and telepathy. So we should be in the literature business for a while, but to stay relevant in a rapidly changing media ecology, we need to evolve along with our critical and evaluative tools. Even if we study, say, the 18th century British novel, we need to be able to make it relevant to new generations of readers accustomed to reading and writing texts in 140 character portions, or writing words that react to the video they are placed over, or hypertext fictions without a clear sense of a beginning or end, or generative works that produce ever-changing texts. And if we choose to embrace the present of literature, we need to be able to be more agile in establishing criteria for evaluation or quality standards. This is a wonderful time for scholarly networks and peer review: word gets out when something is good. So get connected to the professional crowd in your area of interest, start deciding what you think is good and see if others agree. If you absolutely must require a work to pass the proverbial test of time before you deem it worthy of your attention, then fine, let others decide what is worth reading for you and enjoy the past. But you better have some cutting-edge critical perspective (or a newly discovered European theorist) to bring to bear upon these works or you won't be taken seriously. One way or another, the future is here and cannot be ignored: as a subject, as a future audience, and as a toolset. Time to swim.
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Interview continues below.
Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Litteraturtidsskriftet Lasso <litteraturtidsskriftet.lasso@gmail.com> To: Leonardo Flores <leonardo.flores@upr.edu>

Yes, it is time to swim. That is part of the reason why the editorial group chose the theme "digital" for this issue of Lasso. The waters are quite deep though, internet is always expanding and it must be quite a challenge keeping up with the development in the field of e-literature? We are lucky, I guess, because we have the opportunity to visit your blog and instantly find examples of e-poetry that we otherwise might not have seen. But how do you choose what to publish? Do you have to "like" the piece to publish it on your blog? Not that many individuals participate as actively in the sharing of electronic literature as you do, do you think this gives you any kind of power?
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Leonardo Flores <leonardo.flores@upr.edu> To: Litteraturtidsskriftet Lasso <litteraturtidsskriftet.lasso@gmail.com>

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 3:39 PM

One of the great challenges and occupations of an information-rich age is the need for reliable review and curation of content. In media such as print, film, and television for which the means of production and distribution are expensive it is limited to a few publishers or production companies, which filter submissions for quality and marketability. Traditionally, academics and journalists have long been the curators for their respective audiences, offering expert assessments of the quality of a given work. The Web, especially the social Web (let's call it Web 2.5, since 2.0 started a decade ago with blogs and RSS) has allowed EVERYONE to become content curators with an audience, through the simple mechanism of a "like" or a "retweet" that relays the content to one's audience ("friends" or "followers"). Of course, everyone has also become a creator and informal publisher of content, so the need for curation is greater. The review structures and audiences of the past don't go away, but they simply add layers of curation, such as blogs, which have become important extensions of newspapers, journals, and organizations. Enter I ♥ E-Poetry. In some ways this is an old-fashioned kind of blog: single-authored, focused on a single topic, slowly developing an audience. In other ways it's not: it uses Tumblr (a next-generation blogging platform with built in social media functionality), it's integrated to social media with strong Twitter and Facebook outlets, and it's connected to a research database-- the ELMCIP Knowledge Base (http://elmcip.net/knowledgebase), which links back. Its daily writing constraint (which I've never missed) makes this blog a kind of performance writing, a scholarly tour de force.

Electronic literature has abundant venues (conferences, festivals, journals, 'zines, etc.), databases (ELMCIP Knowledge Base, Electronic Poetry Center, Electronic Literature Directory, and others), blogs that explore electronic literature on the subject (Literatura Electrónica, Grand Text Auto, Netpoetic, and many others), courses, awards, and much more, so there is plenty of curation and contextualization out there. But I felt all these were within the academic "bubble" and there was need to extend the scholarship into more general audiences (as I later discovered the Spanish multi-authored Literatura Electrónica has been doing since 2009). So I started a personal mission to map out and curate e-literature in a way that can help enamor new readers with e-poetry. Plus this was a way to publicly read and annotate works within my specialization, expanding my knowledge through a constraint that led me to carefully read and write about an e-poem every day. If you visit my "Now Reading" page, you can see the traces of my campaign. I started out with material that had already been anthologized: the two Electronic Literature Collections. Completing them, I realized I wanted to explore some of those writers who weren't included (and there are many yet to explore), which I did until I decided to "read" Dene Grigar and Sandy Baldwin's wonderfully curated and richly documented resource for the 2012 ELO Media Arts Show. Connecting my reading performance as a type of countdown coverage to an event made me realize the publicity & outreach potential for this blog, which I have repeated with the MLA 2013 and Library of Congress shows. I enjoy focusing on specific writers because it allows me to see beyond a single work and yields insight on their poetics. By reading the works in older e-lit publications, such as Poems that GO and Cauldron & Net, I am able to bring them back to circulation and by covering new ones, like Springgun Press and Dreaming Methods, I can enhance their impact. I also like to take on topics, like as the fuzzy boundaries between narrative and poetry, Taroko Gorge remixes, and the e-poetics of social media. In the future, I intend to continue exploring the same kinds of foci, and add new things like courses and the e-lit written for assignments, feature new writers, explore ELMCIP research collections, and whatever else catches my attention or is suggested by my advisory board and the e-lit community. So to answer your question, I don't necessarily have to "like" something to include it in I ♥ E-Poetry. To be honest, there are things I have written about that I have very much disliked, but have to cover because they are part of a publication, event, or topic I'm covering. A constraint that comes with the ♥ in the title is to find something positive to say about every work-- and trying to meet it with works I dislike has led me to some of my most interesting discoveries. This is rare, though, since I generally write about e-lit that has already been selected by other arbiters of taste. My own tastes and preferences are embedded within I ♥ E-Poetry, and regular readers may be able to infer them. I prefer to keep it this way. As far as power is concerned, I have a growing audience, which I suppose is a kind of power. My analytics data shows my blog receiving over 2000 visits per month from around the world, to date. I have attached an image of a Google Analytics overview since the project was launched, so you can see the audience expansion and overall numbers. Whenever I look at this data, I am awed and filled with gratitude for so many who show an interest. Most importantly, my blog is an instrument by which I can give back to a community of artists and scholars who nourish my research with their writing. As the blog grows as a database and continues to develop an audience, the e-lit stock rises and everyone in the community benefits from increased cultural currency. We all invest time and effort into what we love, after all.
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Litteraturtidsskriftet Lasso <litteraturtidsskriftet.lasso@gmail.com> To: Leonardo Flores <leonardo.flores@upr.edu>

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 7:41 PM

With the digital developments, literature is changing and the borders are growing increasingly blurred and fragile. Everything seems to be happening very rapidly and that poses new challenges for the field that I believe might be very healthy and invigorating. Talking to people like you, who have truly faced these developments head on, is very inspiring. Hopefully many more will feel the need to explore the possibilities in e-literature, so that the students and scholars in a near future will be able to use these changes and challenges in a fashion that bring forth an understanding of literature as something more than paper and books. The institution seems to be lagging somewhat behind, struggling to keep up and make sense of the digitalization of our beloved literary field. As you said earlier on: It's time to swim! Hopefully, many will visit your blog and recognize the value in being conscious of the highly interesting things that are currently happening to literature. Once again, thank you for participating in this interview and answering all my difficult questions in such an elaborate and detailed manner. You have truly opened up the field, and given valuable insight to something that is both a bit scary and very intriguing. Yours sincerely, Pia
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Leonardo Flores <leonardo.flores@upr.edu> To: Litteraturtidsskriftet Lasso <litteraturtidsskriftet.lasso@gmail.com>

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 8:54 PM

Thank you for your kind words, the invitation for the interview, and those challenging questions. They led me to reflect upon my blogging practices and gave me the opportunity to address issues I sometimes take for granted. Academia is slow to change. It's the nature of the beast. And that is not necessarily a bad thing: it keeps a strong cultural center of gravity, so that disciplines don't become too unbalanced and pulled in too many new directions. It forces early adopters like me to reexamine our assumptions, recast our arguments, rethink what seems obvious to us-- all of which leads us to refine our scholarly pursuits. Besides, we can't all be 21st century e-lit scholars, nor should we. Electronic literature makes no sense without literature. The whole sweep of the humanities, literary history, orality and prehistory is important. So study what you love. And learn to swim. Thank you for the opportunity. Leonardo
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