Hyperlink Phenomenon In The Modern Internet Poetry


The article is devoted to one of the little-studied ways of poetic communication such as hypertextual interaction between modern electronic works and various Internet media, which are the original repositories of the cultural memory. Hypertext poetry is considered as the unity of the three components: cultural memory, the mechanisms of which are intertextuality and intermediality; hypertextuality, which helps to establish a direct connection between poetic lines and various images, texts, melodies, and videos; and the void phenomenon with its special meaning in the Internet poetry. The article presents a review of the Russian and foreign research works devoted to the mechanisms of cultural memory, hypertextuality and the void phenomenon. The specifics of the hypertext poetic communication are described in the article. With a hypertext poem, the author literally demonstrates the sources of creative inspiration, and the reader gets the opportunity to see the poem in the process of its creation realizing the cultural strata associated with the new work, and gaining a special understanding of the void if the link leads to a nonexistent resource. It is concluded that the hypertext poetry continues the transmission of the cultural tradition, using a peculiar synthesis of the associative potential of the poetic word and various media linked with the hypertext. The void phenomenon is an element in the compositional structure of a hypertext work.

Keywords: Cultural memoryhyperlinkhypertext poetryintermedialityintertextualityvoid phenomenon


Internet poetry changes the traditional idea of the literary process in many ways; New forms of communication between the poet and the reader have been established, which affects almost all textual categories (Demchenkov et al., 2018; Kuchina, 2017; Schmitz-Emans, 2019; Strehovec, 2017). One of the peculiar features of the modern Internet poetry is a special form of the author’s freedom. On the one hand, the author addresses the numerous readership; on the other hand, the author gets access to unlimited cultural memory resources. The Internet is a repository of a wide variety of texts, images, animations, audio and video media in the broadest sense of the word (McLuhan, 2003), which allows the poet to literally materialize or voice the meanings of poems, make the artistic image vivid. At present, we can speak about a fast developing, but little studied form of electronic literature such as hypertext poetry. The authors of hypertext poems, in fact, establish a direct connection of their works with a variety of digital resources, which are a kind of repository for the cultural memory.

Problem Statement

The theory of intertextuality and intermediality is used in studies devoted to the mechanisms of cultural memory transmission (Blair, 2016; Kim, 2019; Hostova, 2016; Munderzbakaite, 2018; Nilsson, 2020; Senis, 2019; Shatin, 2018; Svend, 2016). The intertextual and intermedial analysis allows you to see how a new work interacts with previous texts and has a possibility to become a poetic tradition by means of quotes, allusions, poetic formulas, as well as various images, videos, or musical compositions. In the modern hypertext poetry, this process takes on a new form: with the use of a link, the author offers the reader to jump to the desired image, which can be expressed in different forms such as music, video, drawing, or photography. What is of particular interest, in our opinion, is the broken link that leads from a poetic line in the literal sense to the void or nowhere, forming a special, previously unknown type of interaction between the author and the reader. The hypertext poetry has a specific way of accumulating and transmitting cultural memory. Our research task is to substantiate this mechanism which is determined by such features of the hypertext poetry as a unique combination of intertextuality and intermediality; hypertextuality, which gets new opportunities in poetry; the special status of the void phenomenon, acquiring an unusual meaning in the hypertext poetry. The theoretical basis of our study includes the Russian and foreign research works devoted to 1. cultural memory, intertextuality and intermediality; 2. peculiarities of the hypertext organization of literary works; 3. the void phenomenon in a poetic text. The practical part of the work is the analysis of hypertext poetry in these three directions.

Research Questions

This study raises a few questions:

3.1. What are the ways of transmitting cultural memory in the modern hypertext poetry, which uses hypertext links in a new way, if compared with journalism or scientific discourse?

3.2. How are poetic meanings created and interpreted?

3.3. What are the forms and semantics of the void phenomenon in the hypertext communication?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to determine the specifics of the hypertext poetic communication which is a new research area nowadays. In the hypertext poetic environment, the author literally demonstrates sources of creative inspiration, and the reader gets the opportunity to see the poem in the process of its creation, realize the cultural strata associated with this work, see the world through the author’s eyes, and come across a special meaning of the void if the link leads to a non-existent resource.

Research Methods

We use general philological methods for the analysis of a literary work: intertextual analysis, analysis of composition of an intermedial text (Kajda, 2016), discursive analysis methods, analysis of stylistic features of a poetic text. The research materials are modern Russian hypertext poetic works created and existing on the Internet.


Literature review

The modern study of literature is based on the concept of cultural memory. Modern researchers share the idea that the transmission mechanism of the cultural memory is the intertext (Terskikh, 2017). It is “the objectively existing information reality that is a product of a person’s creative activity and it can endlessly generate itself on a time scale” (Kuz'mina, 1999, p. 20). Each literary text, possessing the property of intertextuality, is included in the process of literary tradition and evolution. Intermediality becomes a kind of continuation of intertextuality in the modern communicative environment with the multimodal text in the focus. Intermediality is a property of cultural phenomena, including verbal ones, to enter into a dialogue with the works in other semiotic codes. Interpretation of the intermedial text by the recipient involves making a special communicative effort to decipher the meaning of various semiotic codes and establish their connections in the integral work. The modern poetry actively uses the expressive capabilities of the both artifacts of the cultural memory and the Internet environment, which makes possible any combinations and interconnections of the media and texts. These interconnections on the Internet find reality thanks to the hypertext. The hypertext work has fundamental differences from the traditional one due to its specific organization that affects the comprehension of the text and its content. The properties of the hypertext are correlated by researchers with postmodernism features (Vizel, 1999). The author, choosing the hypertext organization for their work, somehow forms the perception conditions relevant to the postmodern paradigm. Thus, the nonlinearity of the hypertext leads to the fact that any reader, choosing their own way of reading a work, gets to know it in their own way, which means creating their own text. The multimedia, allowing the inclusion of a wide variety of sign systems and means of influence, also leads to a multiplicity of perception and interpretation, dilution of the readership attention, “the aesthetic of frustration” (Rosario, 2011, p. 213). The researchers state that there is a growing tendency in the use of the void phenomenon in poetry and communication (Voss, 2019). The special interest of fiction to the signs of the void is paid during the periods of changing cultural paradigms. There are several well-established understandings of the void as a versatile phenomenon:

From the ontological viewpoint, it is empty physical space. From the semiotic viewpoint, it is an empty form in art and literature. From the logical viewpoint, it is the lack of information. Psychologically, it is a state of loneliness or emptiness. (as cited in Saenko, 2010, p.13)

In the Internet environment, apparently, the void phenomenon can be realized in each of the forms: a blank page, a dead site, a lack of necessary content with a huge information flow, aimless following links, an unanswered message. In our opinion, the void phenomenon becomes especially versatile in the Internet art in general and in the hypertext poetry, which in many respects continues the traditions of the avant-garde, in particular. The void to which poetic hyperlinks lead, apparently, can be regarded as a peculiar form of silence, which is interpreted by researchers as the realization of the “zero degree of writing” (Gak, 1998, p.659). One of the properties of a hyperlink is the fact that it is only a temporary bridge linking the text and various media outside it: the link may stop working. The space that the hyperlink leads to is often inaccessible, both for the reader and for the author. When perceiving a non-fiction text, this fact will be regarded as a mistake requiring elimination. However, in a poetic work such a path to nowhere becomes a kind of expressive means.

The peculiarities of the transmission mechanisms of cultural memory, hypertextuality and the void phenomenon: hypertext poetry analysis practices

Using the theories outlined in the review, we will try to analyze several modern Russian hypertext poetic works. V. Skirda’s poem “Call” (Skirda, 2016), devoted to the proto-language, has three hyperlinks, each of which leads to a specific Wikipedia article. The first link is the clickable surname of the famous linguist. The link is located under the epigraph, which is a line translated into the Nostratic language (the main language) by the scientist: “ Jazyk – jeto brod cherez reku vremeni, /on vedjot nas k zhilishhu umershih;/ no tuda ne smozhet dojti tot, /kto boitsja glubokoj vody” (The language is a ford across the river of time, / it leads us to the dwelling of the dead; / but the one who is afraid of deep water will not be able to get there) V. M. Illich-Svitych. The link leads to an article in which the reader can learn about the main idea of the linguist and the goal of creating the lines of the epigraph. In the line “ Kogo nastyrno za klik ali” (Who is persistently clicked=called out), the hypertextual part of the word “ za klik ali ” is klik- , which leads to an article about clicking consonants. The third link from the word “Pranostratic” leads to information about proto-languages. At the same time, the poem in terms of motives, images, rhythm, composition has many intertextual connections, for example, with Tyutchev's poetry, Nietzsche, the Bible and the biblical legend of the Tower of Babel that explains the origin of languages, Gumilyov’s poem “The Word”. The intertextual and intermedial thesaurus of a hypertextual poem, in one way or another, is connected with the ontology of the language, the origin of speech, the idea of the word / sound as the fundamental principle of everything: biblical motifs, scientific and philosophical concepts, poetic metaphors are united by a common idea, which is also supported by stylistic devices (an abundance of literary, high-style, archaic words). In the poem “Nofelet” (Skirda, 2016) (“Kto v gorah, a kto v Rjazani: /V noosfere lishnih net, Nesmertel'no obrezanie, Nooskop ne nofelet” ( Who is in the mountains and who is in Ryazan: / There is no unwanted in the noosphere, Circumcision is non-fatal, Nooscope is not a nofelet ), there are two hyperlinks: the word circumcision leads to the publication on the lenta.ru resource that is “Women of Russia ask to cut off the language of the Mufti of the North Caucasus”. This publication is devoted to the reaction (expressed on social networks) to the proposal for total female circumcision. The second link leads from the word nooscope to the material on the Gazeta.Ru portal under the title “There are no details for a nooscope”. In the strong positions of the poem, that is in the title and the last line, there is the word nofelet , which is a “single” quote understandable to almost all Russian natives. It brings to the reader’s mind the film called “Where is the nofelet” by G. Bezhanov. The poem is a quatrain, the rhyme and rhythm of which imitate the ditty or the parody song ( chastushka ). The parody intonation of the folklore genre and the comic plot of the film are associated with the absurdity of the situations and opinions presented by the media. The absurdity and deceit become the main semantic component of the poem, prototext (film) and publications to which hyperlinks lead: nofelet is the inversed word, which should confuse women in the film; the safety and necessity of female circumcision is a myth that a spiritual leader translates; the nooscope is a pseudoscientific invention. The words nofelet, nooscope and noosphere , having a similar pronunciation pattern, are also a means of creating the integrity of the poem. At the same time, there is an interesting semantic contrast: the element noo- (from Greek νοῦς) - mind - is opposite in meaning to the words deception, absurdity . The void in the hypertext poetry can be expressed by means of the missing media to which the fragment of the poem leads, on the other hand, it can be thought as the “zero degree of writing” in the poetic text. A fragment from Y. Rydkin’s poem “ot glossolalii zashkalivaet trezvost',/ i vot uzh Ja pogrebeno pod tupikami” ( sobriety rolls over from glossolalia, / and now I am buried under dead ends) (Rydkin, 2018) leads to a previously existing but now inaccessible webpage (the link says “ Access is denied ”). The poetic lines containing the words “ glossolalii” (glossolalia), “pogrebeno” (being buried), “tupiki” (dead ends) are naturally embedded in the remote context resource. The “Zero degree of writing” in poems can be realized in phrases that express a rejection of communication. Moreover, this rejection is supported by the media associated with these lines. For example, a fragment of the poem “here our author does not want to write anything at all” leads to the video “If a man does not want to talk about relationships”, in which the girl gives advice on how to make a man “talk” to you.


In conclusion, the modern poetry actively exploring new possibilities of the Internet communication, continues preserving and transmitting a poetic tradition. The poetic word, being diverse in semantic, carries multiple layers of meaning, associations and references. Thanks to hypertext interconnections with various media, the poem has, on the one hand, even greater depth and variability of interpretation. On the other hand, it gets the possibility to create a more detailed image. Hypertext links allow the author to use the meanings and expressive capabilities of works of different epochs, styles and genres to embody the ideas of a new work. The main cultural texts and precedent phenomena can easily be combined in a hypertext poetic work. According to our observation, the organizing center, ensuring the integrity of the perception of the verbal text and the related media, can be various thematic, pragmatic, value-related or formal aspects such as modality and intonation, theme, as well as the specifics of the media. Despite the fact that the termination of the link is a spontaneous process, not controlled by the author, hypertext poetry considers the void as a compositional and expressive means.


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