Colorado Poets Center E-Words Issue #1

A Morning with M. D. Friedman

Bob King

I was early for my interview, but M. D. Friedman was already at the Cannon Mine Coffee House in Lafayette, his laptop open to the homepage of his Internet Poets’ Cooperative ( He began working with technology as a high school science teacher in Loveland, he said, but, a musician as well, he realized that many independent musicians were able to get their music on MP3s, bypassing the traditional music distributors.

He wondered why the same thing couldn’t be done for poetry. Now he has over 500 individual poems available (his own and many other poets) to be heard on the site as well as free-to-read books and E-books to print for a modest price. “Many poets are lucky to sell a hundred books,” he points out, whereas thousands have read his work on line even if the monetary payment is small to non-existent.

M. D. considers the site evolving into a “media site”. He’s gotten more and more interested in experimental work such as “digital poems”, a combination of printed word, spoken word, and visual art and effects.

A TV show is in the works – once a month on Comcast Cable 54 in the Lafayette, Erie, Superior, Louisville area – with live poetry readings. Elizabeth Robinson and Jeffrey Lee have already appeared. The video will then be posted on the website.

“Where writers and readers connect” is the motto of the Internet Poets Cooperative site and it could also be the motto of the monthly poetry reading he directs at the Loveland Art Museum where 20-30 people gather to read and hear a variety of poets and ages.  I’ve visited there myself and enjoy the wide span of work, from lyric to performance, traditional to experimental, and one young man who proclaims long swaths of his rhymed and metered verse from perfect memory. I also enjoy the food and drink provided by local restaurants.

Still, M. D.’s efforts have been focused on the electronic format. Poetry, he says, has in the past been viewed mainly as (1) someone by themselves writing poetry and (2) someone by themselves reading it. He wants to break that ‘bubble-to-bubble’ process down, to create a virtual community of readers and writers.

His interest in technology is driven by a desire to find out what we can do now that we couldn’t do before, whether it’s poetry, photography, or music. He sees digital experiments in the 21st century akin to dada experiments in the 20th., breaking down the hierarchy of publishing, distributing, literary critics, all that.” Another website has been started to explore the transformation of poetry by technology:

It’s transformational – this combining of art forms,” he says, and as I gather my notebook and cold coffee to leave, he repeats his main question: “What can we do now that we couldn’t do before?”