Cruisin’ with “Cruising”

“Cruising” by Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar is an electronic, reader-controlled piece of  literature that combines written word, image and sound.  It is the manipulation of the reader’s tactile, visual and auditory senses that make the poem effective and quite enjoyable. “Cruising” is about the ritualistic activity of driving in a vehicle up and down the main street of a small town seeking excitement, and feeling desperate to quell the boredom that comes with being young in Wisconsin. The keyword “Place” is one that stuck out in my mind, as it is applicable to this poem in a number of ways.

The reader must learn the skill of mouse placement in order to view the e-lit piece effectively. The first time reader will realize that the mouse being placed too high or low or left or right will greatly impair their ability to read the words or view the images being displayed in this piece. It is the mastering of this skill that allows the reader to fully enjoy the poem. Although Sapnar and Ankerson offer the reader some level of interactivity they limit the ability to self-stop and start the word flow. It is my understanding that this control is based on the authors need to maintain the idea behind the story. The characters are driving, and as they are moving the reader should move with them. The fact that a simple hand slip drives the poem faster really evokes a certain feeling in the reader, the feeling that they too are in the car and they are moving with the characters.

The jovial music plays, and the sound of the narrator’s voice is youthful and excited. It is as though the viewer is there, in small town Wisconsin, where the highlight of a Friday night is a flirtation between two car windows and an opportunity to (maybe) smudge that pink lipstick. The authors did a brilliant job in making sure that place was communicated effectively, and I believe that it was their intention to use such an innocent, excited voice to emphasize the age of the characters and the need for excitement in the town the story is set in.

All in all I would recommend this piece. “Cruising” was heartwarming. The description of place in regards to the viewer’s hand placement and the place where the story is set were well executed. Reading, watching and listening to this poem made me feel like I was there.

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