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Back in May of 2006 a new website was created by writer Ken Gordon and webmaster/programmer Fletcher Moore based on a deceptively simple, yet powerfully new, concept. The tagline simply reads, "Great poets. Fifteen minutes. Poetry under pressure." Simple enough, but the results have been making quite a splash. Have you ever wanted to get a glimpse into the mind of a great poet? Arguably that is precisely what happens when one reads the products of their literary labors. QuickMuse adds a new twist or two, though, and the results are challenging to describe. Description follows.

Take two accomplished wordsmiths. Add a selected subject (same one for both writers). Set the ol' egg timer on fifteen minutes and fire the starting gun!

Here is where it gets interesting. Through a brand new software program, dubbed the "Poematic" by its creator, we are treated to a character by character playback of every keystroke performed by the literary artist as the poem is being spun, including deletions, false starts, revisions, rewrites, bashing keyboard with head (well, maybe not that last one, at least not yet!). The result may be the closest thing this side of fantasy to actually seeing the thought processes unfold as a poem is born.

According to Gordon, though, there is an unexpected "killer app" in QuickMuse which hinges on the time pressure. Knowing that there is a strict time limit encourages an improvisational approach which, based on the feedback from both the participants and the audience, ummm, well, works. I compare it to the appeal of improvisational jazz, where the listener shares the player's anticipation to a point, but is pleasantly surprised at the riff that takes off in an entirely new direction. And many of the poets seem to find the experience stimulating in a way that is very distinct from the way they are accustomed to writing.

I have only just discovered this phenomenon myself, but I am amazed at the simple elegance of the concept and am impressed with the way it has made poetry more accessible to some of us who may be "poetically challenged". You may rest assured that I will come back to QuickMuse for inspiration many times.

At the time of this writeup there have been twelve pairs of poets pitted against the clock, with two more twosomes scheduled in November of 2006.

copy and paste: http://www.quickmuse.com/
or external link: QuickMuse
Update: As of September 2019 the QuickMuse site linked here has had no visible changes in over 8 years. If anyone has any information about the QuickMuse 2.0 that was "in the works" please message me, npecom.