“Cruising” is an interactive computer based poem in which the reader must control the poem by moving the mouse with just the right motion across the pad. Its creators, Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar have been producing and publishing interactive poetry since 2001 with “Cruising” as the debut for their literary journal “Poems on the Go.” The text itself was written long before when Ingrid was still a student of creative writing in university.
The basis of the poem documents the life of teenage girls in small town Wisconsin cruising the strip in what is assumingly a borrowed car and having an all round good time on a weekend night. Something I’m sure many of us can relate to. Brief and simple the poem is to the point, easy reading and listening. Throw in a background image, a narrators voice, a slideshow of black and white photos, and the strum of a guitar and you have an engaging visual experience that takes you into the lives of these young girls. The interaction? Well the catch is that the reader must drive the slideshow of photographs and text to appropriate size and accordingly with the narrators voice. Move the mouse too far up and the text engulfs the page. Move it to far down and the images and words become too small to read. Move too far left and the poem goes backwards at an alarming rate. You get the idea. Like video game from the early 80’s.
The poem is sharp, the narrators voice is passionate, the music suiting, and the images visually pleasing. The only major flaws with the piece are primarily programming errors or difficulties for the now outdated software the authors were using. When the reader has entered the poems display the narrator starts speaking but the words are not positioned at the beginning of the poem, instead the viewer must use the mouse to skim race back to the beginning when by this time the narration has already begun and it is up to the reader to match the speed of the words with the speakers. All should continue smoothly from there if one has the controls mastered but come the end of the poem the music and poem keep looping and the narration is over. The reader is free to reread in peace.
The programming could use some work and I would beg the authors to use full quality photographs next time instead of what were probably great photographs originally, now butchered by pixilation. A great idea is in the works here but I feel its potential has not been reached