New: Judy Malloy, "From Ireland with Letters: Issues in Public Electronic Literature", Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, November 2016

cantos1-4: Judy Malloy: Retrospective, the 2014 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, June 20-23, 2012

cantos1-4: Electronic Language International Festival, Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 16 - August 19, 2012;

cantos 1-5: Les litteratures numeriques d'hier a demain at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris, France, September 24 thru December 1, 2013;

canto6: Hold The Light, the 2014 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, June 18-21, 2014

canto7: generative reading, the 2015 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway, August 4-7, 2015





"Each time the song is sung, our notions of it change, and we are changed by it. The words are old. They have been worn into shape by many ears and mouths and have been contemplated often. But every time is new because the time is new, and there is no time like now." - Ciaran Carson [1]


From Ireland with Letters is comprised of Eight Cantos, one of which is a Prologue (canto 1) and one of which is a coda. (canto 8) The work was begun in 2010 and build1 was finished in December 2015. 2016-2017 is devoted to editing and recoding this work.

Each canto of From Ireland with Letters is separate and written in a distinctive structure and tempo, but the whole is integrated by themes introduced in the opening Prologue.

As a general rule, the work can be read either by waiting for the text to change on its own (as if watching a film or listening to a piece of music) or by clicking on any lexia, in which case the reader takes control of how the story is explored. The authoring system varies from unmeasured notation in cantos I-III, to measured notation (malloy: fiddlers_passage) in cantos IV-VI, to generative hypertext in the concluding cantos.

With the exception of The Not Yet Named Jig, each part of this work of polyphonic/polychoral literature is created with three or four moving columns of poetic text that -- like a piece of music -- work together in counterpoint. (a method I first used in 1991 to create Wasting Time) And just as a listener needs to listen to a complex work of music more than once to understand how it works, each part of From Ireland with Letters benefits from several "replays".

Detailed notes for this work are available at http://www.well.com/user/jmalloy/from_Ireland/about_whole.html.


1. Ciaran Carson, Last Night's Fun, NY: North Point Press, 1996. p. 116
2. Séan Crosson, "The Given Note": Traditional Music and Modern Irish Poetry, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008


"For over two decades, Malloy has been spinning together history, fiction, technology, memoir, geography, arts, and love into narrative poems that capture the zeitgeist of the early Internet era. With another portion in the making, the time may have arrived for a hypertext epic." - Leonardo Flores, I heart e-poetry

On a quest that my grandfather, Walter Powers, sent me on years ago, (although I did not follow it until many years later) in circa 2008, I acquired Smithsonian historian Richard P. Wunder's monograph on the 19th century sculptor, Hiram Powers, who was born in Woodstock, Vermont but lived most of his life in Florence, Italy, from whence -- sent home to America -- his work was important in convincing Americans of the evils of slavery. I began at the beginning, where Wunder documents that Powers' first male ancestor in America was Walter Power, who was born in Waterford, Ireland in 1639, and emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1654.

It is said that in Ireland people still frighten their children with tales of the monster Oliver Cromwell and the brutal Puritan New Model Army. Knowing that in 1654 no Irishman would emigrate of his own free will to a Puritan colony, I stared at the date on page 28. And so in ancient books of Irish history, I unfolded the story of how after Cromwell devastated Ireland in 1649, in the following years, he sent his Irish opponents and their families into exile and slavery.

The role of displacement and disrupted tradition in the work of contemporary Irish authors [2] is paralleled in this epic Irish American electronic manuscript, which interweaves the stories of Walter Power -- who came to America as an Irish slave on The Goodfellow in 1654, stolen from his family by Cromwell's soldiers and sold in the Massachusetts Bay Colony when he was 14 years old -- and his descendant, 19th century Irish American sculptor Hiram Powers, who grew up on a Vermont farm and moved to Florence, Italy, where his work played a symbolic role in the fight against African American slavery in America.

The selling of Irish people -- against their will for enforced labor -- was in general short-lived in the colonies and by no means should be compared to the horrors of African American slavery. The point of this narrative is rather the example of the artist Hiram Powers, who used his family memory to inspire opposition to African American slavery. In no other way should this heritage be used.

Intertwining Irish history and generations of Irish American family memories in a work of polyphonic literature based on the rhythms of ancient Irish Poetry, the imagined lost Irish Sonata, the madrigal, streams and fountains, and Irish song, From Ireland with Letters is an epic electronic manuscript told in the public space of the Internet. It could also be considered playable text or generative hyperfiction.

The narrative is a storyteller's retelling of what is known of a true family story. However, the characters who tell it in From Ireland with Letters are fictional. Walter Power's story is initially told by his descendant Máire Powers, an Irish American fiddler who is writing a lay about 17th century Ireland and Irish slavery in America; Hiram Powers' story is initially told by 19th century art historian Liam O'Brien, who is researching the sculptor's life and work. As the narrative progresses, both their own lives and their research begin to merge.

From Ireland with Letters is copyright 2010-2017 Judy Malloy.