Hypertext poetry is a form of digital poetry that uses links using hypertext mark-up. It is a very visual form, and is related to hypertext fiction and visual arts. The links mean that a hypertext poem has no set order, the poem moving or being generated in response to the links that the reader/user chooses. It can either involve set words, phrases, lines, etc. that are presented in variable order but sit on the page much as traditional poetry does, or it can contain parts of the poem that move and / or mutate. It is usually found online, though CD-ROM and diskette versions exist. The earliest examples date to no later than the mid 1980s.
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Hypertext in traditional poetryEdit
by George J. Dance
Others have incorporated hypertext into traditional poems, which entirely changes the experience of reading them.
Many poems from the 18th century and before contain words and ideas unfamiliar to the contemporary reader, Greek and Latin words, Classical references, words that have changed in meaning or pronunciation, and the like. The modernist poetry of the 20th century, with its wealth of allusion, is if anything more difficult to decode. Previously a reader would have to miss many of these, and have to simply guess at others; today, however, all such can be hyperlinked, and the reader can discover and learn them simply by clicking the links.
It is arguable whether adding hypertext links to a poem results in a new artistic creation. At the very least, it undeniably makes the original poetry more acccessible.
One contemporary poet who experiments with adding hypertext to his linear poetry is George J. Dance . In 2010 he released the second poem of his "Penny" series in two versions: as "Penny's OS", a plain text version; and as "Penny's OS 2.0", a hyperlinked version.