Category: 04) Megan Sapnar’s “Car Wash” As A New Media Sonnet

Here, Keller examines new media poetry and suggests the importance of looking at Megan Sapnar’s “Car Wash” not from a solely literary perspective. Keller urges readers to consider the author as a composer who simultaneously combines words with sound and image. Keller asks, “How like or unlike is ‘Car Wash’ from a poem on the traditional page?” He also outlines the pros and cons of writing for the computer screen. He breaks the poem down and discovers that the line breaks appear in a non-traditional sense to make a more traditional Shakespearean sonnet. Furthermore, musical breaks occur in a rhetorical way to make the audience focus their attention on the visual poem. The author, aware that students are becoming more familiar with electronic texts, makes the assumption that new media will popularize a new form of poetry, one in which line breaks are not stuck to the page, but rather, fluid and mobile.

To view Megan Sapnar’s poem “Car Wash” please follow this link:

Image created in lieu of author photograph.

Michael Keller is the instructor and technology coordinator at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his BA from James Madison University and his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Keller is the online editor of Blackbird , an online journal of literature and the arts. He is a technologist and writing instructor for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of English. His poetry has appeared in The Southern Review , New Virginia Review , Runes , and other publications. He has presented in the computer and writing community regarding issues of technology and writing pedagogy, creative and informational hypertext, and new media.

Ankerson, Ingrid. (2000). While chopping red peppers. Poems that go . May 1, 2007, from

Dacey, Philip, & Jauss, David. (1986). Strong measures: Contemporary American poetry in traditional forms . New York: Harper & Row.

Ludwig, Jessica. (2001, June 12). Students’ poetry web site showcases hypertext verse. The Chronicle of Higher Education Daily News . May 1, 2007, from

Hummer, T. R. (1990). Days the bear eats you: The choice of “Testimony.” In Warren Slesinger (Ed.), Spreading the word: Editors on poetry (pp. 44–52). Columbia, SC: Bench Press.

Sapnar, Megan. (2000). Car wash. Poems that go . May 1, 2007, from

Sapnar, Megan, & Ankerson, Ingrid. (2000). About poems that go. Poems that go . Retrieved May 1, 2007, from

Spiller, Michael. (1997). The sonnet sequence: A study of its strategies . New York: Twayne.

Voigt, Ellen Bryant. (1999). The flexible lyric . Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.