Digitization and Literature: The Approach of a Poet-Critic to Digital Influences on Poetry and Fiction with Special Reference to My Own Experience as a Writer

  • Andrew Parkin
Part of the Digital Culture and Humanities book series (DICUHU, volume 1)


The invention of printing spread detailed knowledge within and across frontiers. The late twentieth-century digital revolution has made the spread global and much faster. New technologies and political systems at the beginning of the twentieth century permitted the rise of agitprop writing; global capitalism, leaking of digitized data, and rapid organization of street protests have, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, permitted what we might term digitprop. The literature must be affected. My own generation saw the transition from typed to digitized texts. Writing begins with words in the head; poetry begins with word music in the head, then pencil or pen jottings and then revision by hand until a draft appears that can be digitized and further altered. Prose can more easily be written directly into a computer. Revision can then be rapid. Digital texts now follow a double highway: the ‘slow lane’ of traditional books; digital publication on web-based sites is nearly instantaneous. Advantages are obvious, but copyright becomes tricky or non-existent. Prestige still resides with the printed book, which cannot easily be falsified. Digital sites depend on rapidly changing technology and can be made to vanish very easily, thus losing huge amounts of data. The writer may albeit depend on a ‘digital support stream’ of sites. Readership for digital e-books grows and wanes, though the e-zine is now a well-established fact. Many writers still need readings in person with live audiences who give support and live reactions. The democratic spirit often appears at such readings where the ‘open mic’ follows featured writers. Yet new publishers producing printed books spring onto the scene each year. Some texts, especially complex academic ones, need to appear as printed books.


Print media Digital revolution Agitprop Digitprop Poetry Fiction Web-based sites Copyright E-books E-zines Support streams Readings Print publishers 

Supplementary material

466327_1_En_4_MOESM13_ESM.pdf (993 kb)
Illustration 1 This digital anthology or an e-zine would enable a reader to enter and read poems online (PDF 992 kb)


  1. Bailey, K. (2014). Avant-garde and actuality: Interviews with stage director Katie Mitchell and set designer Vicki Mortimer. In J. E. Bowlt (Ed.), Russian Avant-garde theatre: War, revolution and design (pp. 92–115). London: Nick Herne Books.Google Scholar
  2. Cambridge Digital Library. (2015). Oracle bones. University of Cambridge. Retrieved from
  3. Chan, H., & Parkin, A. (2006). Shaw sights and sounds. Hong Kong: Shaw College [see below for more detail].Google Scholar
  4. Clune, M. (2015). Gamelife: A Memoir. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.Google Scholar
  5. Crystal, D. (2015). The disappearing dictionary. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. Furedi, F. (2015). The power of reading from Socrates to Twitter. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  7. Grenville, B. (2015). In Vancouver art gallery [news and events]. 39, 17.Google Scholar
  8. Ha, L. (2016). Learning Latin: Not haute couture but culture shock [Interview]. CUHK Newsletter, 477, 2–3.Google Scholar
  9. Jenkins, S. (2016a, May 13). On books. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  10. Jenkins, S. (2016b, December 22). Libraries are dying – but it’s not about the books. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  11. Johnson, B. S. (2008). The unfortunates. New York: New Directions (Original work published 1969).Google Scholar
  12. Krashen, S. (2015). Free reading: Still a good idea. In J. Bland & C. Lutge (Eds.), Children’s literature in second language education (pp. 15–24). London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  13. Krieger, M. (1992). Ekphrasis: The illusion of the natural sign. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins U.P..Google Scholar
  14. Orwell, G. (1949). Nineteen eighty-four. London: Secker and Warburg.Google Scholar
  15. Parkin, A. (1991; 1987). Dancers in a web. Winnipeg: Turnstone Press.Google Scholar
  16. Parkin, A. (2003). The rendez-vous: Poems of multicultural experience. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  17. Parkin, A. (2006). Shaw sights and sounds. Hong Kong: Shaw College in The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Contains: College Head’s Preface, “In Harmony”, by Ching Pak-chung; “Shaw Feelings and Shaw Sights” by painter Chan Hang together with 20 paintings of college scenes; a Prologue by Andrew Parkin with 12 poems in English by Parkin; Laurence Wong, “Words from the translator” together with Wong’s translations of the poems.Google Scholar
  18. Parkin, A. (2009). Star of a hundred years. Ajmer, India: ARAWLII. [The Hindi translator was the poet Anuraag]. This scenariode was later reprinted with the long poem “Gourds” in Star With a Thousand Moons (Victoria: EKSTASIS, 2011). Another reprint appeared in Parkin’s Another Rendez-Vous: Poems and Prose from the Cultural Cross Roads (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011). Chinese translations of the two long poems have now been prepared by Laifong Leung and Jessica Tsui-yan Li for the Chinese and English parallel text version for Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, B.C.].Google Scholar
  19. Parkin, A. (Ed.). (2010). “At the Hawk’s Well” and “The Cat and The Moon” manuscript materials by W.B. Yeats. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Parkin, A. (2014). Private dancers or responsible women, a novel of intrigue. Houston: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency.Google Scholar
  21. Parkin, A., & Ricard, J. (2000). At Chinese university. Paris: La Cour Pavée.Google Scholar
  22. Stewart, J. (2011a). Andrew Parkin’s poetry: Landscapes, cityscapes, cultures. Canadian Poetry, 68, 243–264.Google Scholar
  23. Stewart, J. (2011b). Art and ekphrasis in Andrew Parkin’s poetry. Symbolism, 11, 245–264.Google Scholar
  24. Stewart, J. (2015). Review of private dancers or responsible women, a novel of intrigue. Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies, 26(1), 198–202.Google Scholar
  25. Stierstorfer, K. (1999). West meets East: Andrew Parkin, Hong Kong, in interview with Klaus Stierstorfer, Würzburg. Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies, 10(1), 40–46.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Parkin
    • 1
  1. 1.The Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina

Personalised recommendations