Cordite Gets Creative and Common

*Cordite* editor David Prater

Cordite editor David Prater

The latest issue of Australian online journal Cordite is asking its readers to become re-mixers by offering them the chance to download the entire issue and re-work it. We exchanged emails with Amsterdam-based editor David Prater about the methodology behind Cordite and its re-mixing.

Why do Creative Commons? Why now?

Well, we were initially inspired by the Remix My Lit project which was carried out by Creative Commons Australia last year. They invited people to remix prose stories; we thought we could do the same for poetry. And thus Cordite 33: Creative Commons was born.

Can you explain the download and remix idea behind this issue?

Just as a remix of a song takes elements of the song and rearranges them, so too with this issue we’re asking people to play with the lines of poems. You can download a document from our website containing all of the poems in the issue, and then all you have to do is start playing with the poems, cutting and pasting, shifting, rearranging - heck, even run them through a machine translator a few times, just to see how it turns out. We’re also asking people to send us their remixes, and we’ll publish a selection of these on the Cordite site later this year.

Remixing is an idea borrowed from music - how do you see music differing from text?

Well unlike music, words need to be activated in some way. You can’t put a book “on” in the corner of a room to set the mood for a romantic evening. Unless it’s a talking book but that’s cheating.

Cordite has long been at the vanguard of writing online - is it a contradiction to long be at the vanguard?

The truth is, we’ve been guarding the van for so long that we’ve given up hope that the original owner will ever come back and claim it. In that sense there’s no contradiction in your statement. Thank you for making it.

What does it mean to be an online journal? How is it better than print?

I don’t think it’s either/or in terms of online versus print. Website owners can point the finger at print publishers and criticise them for chopping down trees to print books; but on the other hand, print publishers can throw the example of the US military at Internet-glorifying website owners any time they like. After all, the Internet was initially designed with a military purpose in mind, and the amounts of waste generated by the communications and computing industries are indeed vast. It’s easier for a poetry magazine like Cordite to reach a worldwide audience, that’s for sure - but that audience is still incredibly small. The one good thing about editing an online magazine is that when you make a mistake, or a typo, you can fix it immediately. You can afford to be more relaxed, in that sense. Then again, I seem to be fixing typos and coding problems every minute of the day. But enough about me. I’m just glad to have an opportunity to show off Australian poets to the world. Code is poetry.

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