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Poetry Review

Orange Sweatshirt

Team Lit

Like your adjectives a little less Pound and a little more Nabakov? Prefer a Whitman-esque sprawl to your line break rather than a Bukowski-esque punch? David Devanny’s digital-first poem 'Orange Sweatshirt' puts the reader in control, with a piece that is exquisitely crafted and endlessly playable…

Extending the idea of immersion and disruption through playful, interactive and deeply romantic literary folly, Devanny’s free verse poem Orange Sweatshirt  forms a love letter to the person in the eponymous clothing item. But how that love letter takes shape is up to you.

Giving the reader the opportunity to choose the style, form and eroticism of the piece is smart and engaging, but Devanny’s skill lies in making every possible iteration of the poem as artful as the last. What could feel like a gimmick in less masterful hands here simply highlights both the poet’s digital aptitude and writerly craft.

The simple aesthetic of the poem foregrounds a confidence in creating word-art and literature that is neither singular nor too earnest, as so many forays into ambient and digital seem to be. But within the possibilities of co-creation lies a more discursive potential, namely the invitation to become part of the story, which is, arguably, what canonical literature does through the process of evoking empathy through imaginative engagement. In this way, the author seems to be gently mocking self-referential digital narcissism within the act of reading love poetry in a virtual space in which the ego appears to be omnipresent (Turkle, 2011).