Train 6 – the PoEMMs of Jason Edward Lewis
Jason Edward Lewis is a designer, programmer, poet, and artist whose work blurs the boundaries between image and text. His PoEMMs (Poetry for Excitable Mobile Media) are made to be “read” and interacted with on a touch screen. Lewis and his team at ObxLabs developed the PoEMMs using NextText, a software library that they designed and developed themselves. NextText, which is implemented in Java, reads OpenType fonts and allows users to manipulate textual objects as both text and graphics.
Lewis’ PoEMMs demonstrate the dual nature of objects in NextText; when touched, the words of his PoEMMs morph into lines that track the users’ fingers or colorful, abstracted shapes. His PoEtry is both thematically and formally intense. He narrates, among other things, the complexity of racialization and identity (“What They Speak When They Speak to Me”); the horror of forced racial classification and blood quantum laws (“No Choice About the Terminology”); and the uneasy reality of Indigenous peoples living in the settler colonial system that is the United States (“The World That Surrounds You Wants Your Death”). The unique form of the PoEMMs, both image and text, defiant of categories and classification, is deeply powerful within the context of Lewis’ subject matter.
The PoEMMs are available to read/play on iOS.