Timothy Wilcox grew up on the Internet and is a scholar of English literature, focusing on computer-based writing, British Romanticism, imagination, and the wider context of literary shifts within the digital age. He holds a PhD in English.
You can contact me here.
The name is, partly, a pun. A precursor is one whose work comes before another. Unquestionably, this is most writers in history, but someone who writes a first poem tomorrow will also be a precursor to the literature which is yet to come. "Pre-cursor" refers to those who came before the electronic cursor, but making the distinction implies the question, "Then who are the post-cursor poets?"
We are in a transitional moment. In many ways which most readers remain unaware of (and which remains absent from most formal education), some literature adapted to the digital age decades ago. Looking at those early experiments, we might ask:
- Who were their precursors and how did they situate themselves in relation to those precursors?
- In the decades since, who have those writers already been precursors to?
- What is still yet to come, and how can we glimpse this through the literature which exists right now?
If you have looked over the site at all, you will likely have noticed that the site is not restricted to the genre of poetry. The particular term of "poets" in this context was lifted from the critic Harold Bloom (see below), and kept because of the philosophic importance of poetic language in our expressive ability and understanding of the world broadly.
The genre distinctions of literature, like the term "literature" itself, have interesting histories worth exploring. These distinctions, however, fall short of the loftier aim of exploring the literature which is yet to come and the infinite potential of that writing. "Poets" it is, then.
In his writing on influence, Harold Bloom argued that strong poets always – perversely, wilfully – misrepresent their predecessors. From A Map of Misreading (1975):
More than ever, contemporary poets insist that they are telling the truth in their work, and more than ever they tell continuous lies, particularly about their relations to one another, and most consistently about their relations to their precursors. One of the functions of criticism, as I understand it, is to make a good poet’s work even more difficult for him to perform, since only the overcoming of genuine difficulties can result in poems wholly adequate to an age consciously as late as our own. All that a critic, as critic, can give poets is the deadly encouragement that never ceases to remind them of how heavy their inheritance is.