The poem “Found in the Shaukiwan MTR Station” is not sad, but playful, about a romance that has gone bad. I use a simple trick, one that Thomas Edison used in his first film, made less than two miles from my study here in the Oranges of New Jersey — namely, with a flash card technique I display a carved romantic pierced heart, adding one letter at a time, in this instance not to announce the object of the carver's affection, but to proclaim his disaffection and the dissolution of the romance.
In “Gay Man’s 1989 Diary: A Prose Poem” I pit the hypochondriacal silliness of the gay male diarist, afraid that every pimple augurs AIDS, against his rather quiet but stunning announcements of death after death of his friends actually dying of the pestilence in Newark, one of the cities hardest hit.
In 1986, I won an annual award which the Hong Kong Computer Society gives for what it judges to be the "Best Article of the Year" in its own Hong Kong Computer Journal. The ones in charge of presenting the award arrived early. Members of that Society run the computers at what was then one of the most dangerous airports in the world and at the banks and brokerage houses of the what was then the world's second largest financial center. "Why did you give the award to me?" I asked. "I am not a computer specialist. I merely showed how I had used WordStar's MailMerge to teach myself in Cantonese."
"We deliberately wanted to send a signal to other writers who submit to us. We value creativity not just in the technology itself, but also in the way that we deploy the technology," they replied. Thereafter, many of my colleagues at Chinese University of Hong Kong sent computer science majors to me for advice about creative ways they might use their technical skills.
I wrote one of the first doctoral dissertations in English literature to make extensive use of computers (a grammatical and rhetorical analysis of Dickens' language for protest (University of Alabama, 1971). When I retired from Rutgers University in 2001, I was recognized for being one of the few English teachers to make extensive use of the web in teaching English.
Computers do not do our thinking for us, but they certainly make it much easier to revise and much easier to reach an audience. For the last ten years of my teaching, students always did their assignments for the world to see, not just for me, and that made a big difference, especially when I occasionally had friends around the world sneak peeks and drop them comments. Before computers I would have said that I was giving dropping printers' ink into their bloodstream; now I think of it as cyber ink, and just as addictive.
Louie Clay (né Louie Crew), 77, an Alabama native, is an emeritus professor at Rutgers. He lives in East Orange, NJ, with Ernest Clay, his husband of 40 years. As of today, editors have published 2,361 of Clay's poems and essays. Clay has edited special issues of College English and Margins. He has written four poetry volumes: Sunspots (Lotus Press, Detroit, 1976), Midnight Lessons (Samisdat, 1987), Lutibelle's Pew (Dragon Disks, 1990), and Queers! for Christ's Sake! (Dragon Disks, 2003).