Mary Jo Salter in Virtual Battle of the Bards

Mary Jo Salter, Emily Dickinson Senior Lecturer in the Humanities at Mount Holyoke College, National Book Critics Circle Award nominee, an editor of the Norton Anthology of Poetry, and a vice president of the Poetry Society of America, is about to add a new item to her resume: agonist. On Tuesday, August 22, at 9:30 pm, she and Jeffrey McDaniel, poet and professor at Sarah Lawrence College, will take part in an online battle of the bards on

QuickMuse, which has been noted in the New York Times and the Observer U.K. and on the BBC radio shows "The Verb" and "Front Row," is a Web site that encourages great poets to wing it on the Web.

During each online jam session, two poets are assigned a topic and have fifteen minutes to brew up some on-the-spot verse. Then readers hit the playback button and watch the poems unfurl, letter by letter.

"Salter and McDaniel are very different, but equally interesting, poets," said QuickMuse editor and publisher Ken Gordon. "August 22 will be a very interesting night."

It will be, in fact, one in a series of interesting nights. Other recent agons, or literary conflicts, have included everyone from former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky to Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Muldoon to the legendary Marge Piercy and the vastly original Thylias Moss.

Salter herself seems to have predicted the emergence of something like QuickMuse and its careful fusion of technology and art. She writes, in "A Kiss in Space":

Virtual Reality or e-mail,
something inexplicable and
unnatural--is always cropping up
for incorporation in what's human.

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