I have spent a lifetime attempting to engage with the world through writing, music, digital art, photography, and aimless daydreaming. Many if not most of those attempts are accessible through this Website. Of course my most brilliant, soul-rending, earth-shattering work is still locked away in the dark recesses of my brain somewhere, awaiting the light of day. Or so I hope.

Faith: Kinetically interwoven arguments from the faith/logic smackdown. With music.
Soothcircuit: Poetic flights of prognostication.
Clues: An interactive metaphysical whodunit.
Feed: A news feed from the uncharted territories of the mind.

Photo of Robert KendallRobert Kendall is a composer, writer, photographer, and Web artist. His music was included in an interactive art installation exhibited at Figment Boston 2018 and will be performed at the Bargemusic concert series in New York City. His photographs have appeared in several publications and Websites.

He began creating interactive multimedia poetry in 1990, making him one of the earliest practitioners of the form. He is the author of a book-length hypertext poem, A Life Set for Two (Eastgate Systems, 1996). His hypertext poetry has also appeared on disk in The Little Magazine and Version Box. It has appeared on the Web at Iowa Review Web, BBC  Online, Eastgate Hypertext Reading Room,Cauldron & Net, and Cortland Review. A Wandering City (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1992), his printed book of poems, won the CSU Poetry Center Prize. Kendall's printed poetry has appeared widely in magazines (including Rattapallax,Contact II, River Styx, New York Quarterly, Barrow Street, and Indiana Review), and several anthologies have included his work. He has received a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship for literature and a New Forms Regional Grant Program Award.

Kendall has read his poetry at numerous locations in many states and in Europe, as well as on Manhattan Cable TV and nationally syndicated public radio. His electronic poetry has been exhibited at many sites in the USA (including the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia and the Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, New Jersey), as well as in England, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia, the Philippines, and Brazil. A videotape version of the work was shown at the Second Annual Poetry Video Festival in Chicago and on Manhattan Cable TV. Kendall curated an exhibit of digital and interactive artwork for the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, which included his own work.

Kendall has given many talks about interactive literature and electronic publishing at conferences and festivals, including conferences of the ACM and AWP. Since 1995 he has taught hypertext poetry and fiction through the online program of the New School University in New York. Over 100 of his articles and essays about computer technology and computers in the arts have appeared in publications ranging from PC Magazine, PC Computing, and Electronic Musician to Poets & Writers Magazine, Leonardo, Electronic Book Review, Cortland Review, Kairos, and Without Covers (a collection of essays from Purdue University Press). His papers have appeared in the proceedings of two ACM Hypertext conferences, one Digital Arts and Culture conference, and two Small Computers in the Arts symposiums. He was formerly the hypertext literature editor of the SIGWEB Newsletter (published by the Association for Computing Machinery), for which he wrote a regular column. His Web site Word Circuits publishes hypertext literature and offers a host of literary resources.

He served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization and is the founder and original director of the Organization's Electronic Literature Directory. He is codeveloper of Connection Muse, an adaptive hypertext authoring system for Web poetry and fiction. His papers are archived by Duke University.

Kendall was born and raised in Canada. He earned an MA from New York University, sojourned in New Jersey and San Francisco, and now lives in Boston.

Contact him at kendall@wordcircuits.com.

Wikipedia Entry

Electronic Poetry and Fiction

  • Feed (2008)

    Our deeply ingrained need to trust language enables Feed to generate an endless simulacrum of social commentary cum mythopoeic narrative spontaneously from largely random associations of charged words. With each click of the Continue button, it presents cultural observation through the blind eye of chance. The blank passing moment becomes the creator of mythos. It allows us the opportunity to turn ambiguity into poetry, absurdity into satire, unexpected fortuitous alignments into insight. Feed chronicles the mechanisms of the chronicle rather than its subjects. It removes “realism” from the equation, flirting with the meaningless and parading arbitrary associations before the reader under the banners of archetype and metaphor. Feed historicizes, editorializes, moralizes, sings, dances, and wears funny hats, all in the name of “analyzing” its own inventions.

  • Pieces (2008)

    Pieces is a puzzle story. To read the work, you assemble the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, each piece yielding a portion of narrative. Under your hands, several lives take shape in earnest if sometimes wobbly and unprepossessing assemblages. The manner in which you put the pieces together affects the course of the characters’ lives, different configurations resulting in different outcomes.

  • Logozoa (2006–2009)

    Logozoa.com is a home for textual organisms in the form of aphorisms, anti-aphorisms, maxims, minims, neokoans, sayings, left-unsaids, proverbialisms, poemlets, microtales, instant fables, and other varieties of conceptual riffs. They can be adopted as downloaded printable stickers or viewed as photos in a natural-habitat zoo.

  • Soothcircuit (2005)

    Soothcircuit presents constellations of Logozoa (see above) in the guise of oracular prognostication.

  • This animated poetry video confronts the fear of growing older but not necessarily wiser. Flash setting by Michele D'Auria. Narration by the author. (Requires Flash)

  • In the Garden of Recounting lets you tend and nurture memories that grow into a story. You are presented with a garden to explore, and as you move your mouse over the vegetation, lines of text sprout from it. Throughout this process, you can also “water” the garden with commentary that drips down from an overhanging cloud when you mouse over a set of keywords. The work metaphorically represents the process of coaxing fragmentary images out of memory in order to piece together an account of the past. It also demonstrates the way that memories change organically over time and how they can mutate in order to meet the needs of the story one wants to tell about oneself. This digital garden compels you to recognize that the acts of recalling and recounting are dependent not upon a fixed body of data but upon continually growing and changing organic structures within the brain. (Requires Flash)

  • Faith (Originally published in Cauldron & Net, 2002)

    Faith is a kinetic poem that reveals itself in five successive states. Each new state is overlaid onto the previous one, incorporating the old text into the new. Each new state absorbs the previous one while at the same time engaging in an argument with it. The gradual textual unfolding is choreographed to music.

    (Requires Flash)

  • Clues (2001–2005)

    Clues explores the nature of communication, knowledge, and identity through the language and postures of mystery fiction. It's a metaphysical whodunit that invites you to solve the mystery by uncovering clues linked to images throughout the work. The search becomes a game that leads you down wooded trails, back alleys, and empty hallways. Which characters should you pursue? Which objects should you investigate? To win the game, you must separate all the clues from the red herrings. Your final score determines the outcome of the text. But is the mystery really soluble? Is winning actually better than losing? Are the answers or the questions more revealing?

  • Penetration (2000) and Dispossession (1999)
    Penetration explores change. The immigrant’s experience of changing homelands, the seasonal changes within those lands themselves, and evolving states of mind are counterpointed against one another and against the shifting hypertextual structure of the poetry. The poem focuses on two immigrants from Eastern Europe, a father and daughter, who are seeing each other again for the first time in many years. The natural world around them becomes a third character, the Mothering Earth. The hypertext unfolds organically from the reader’s choices, with each different reading emphasizing different aspects of the relationship. Many pages in the work contain variable text, which changes whenever the reader rereads that page. The changeability of the text reflects the constant flux of the relationships explored in the poem. Dispossession follows a man who is leaving his Caribbean homeland for America. The uncertainty of the future is represented by the changeable structure, which places recurring images in contrasting contexts.

  • A Study in Shades (Cortland Review, 2000; also available on BBC Online)

    A Study in Shades explores the devastation of Alzheimer’s Disease from the points of view of a man afflicted by it and his daughter. The reader interacts with the poem to experience the different perspectives of the two characters and their relationship to each other. An interplay between text and morphing graphics reflects the progress of this relationship.

  • A Study in Conveyance delves into the pleasures and dangers of letting yourself go.

  • In Frame Work, the interplay among texts in different frames of the browser explores the way the mind refocuses among modes of perception. The focus shifts from images inside a room to those outside a window.

  • A Life Set for Two (Eastgate Systems, 1996)

    A book-length hypertext poem that no longer runs on modern computers.

  • SoftPoems (1990-91)

    Kinetic visual poetry for DOS. These are among the earliest poems of this type ever written, but they no longer run on modern computers.

Visual Poetry

  • Sostenuto for Strings
    Concerto for Perfection
    Sonata for Unaccompanied Being
    Impromptu on the Incomplete

    A series of 5 visual poems based on music imagery.

Linear Poetry

  • Poems published in various online magazines.

  • Excerpts from the printed collection (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1992), winner of the CSU Poetry Center Prize

About the Electronic Arts

HTLit Column

This column on hypertext literature appears regularly in print in the SIGWEB Newsletter (formerly SIGLINK Newsletter) and online at Word Circuits.

About Literature


My numerous photos ranging in subject matter from Beijing and Paris to Occupy Boston are available on my Flickr Page. I specialize in High Dynamic Range photography, which preserves color and detail that is lost in conventional photographic processes.

Original Compositions

  • Music for Large Ensemble

    Phrygian Enigma

    For Any Instrumental Combination
    An enigma canon for large ensemble. A canon is a musical form in which each instrument plays exactly the same melodic line (or a transformation of that line) but several beats apart. An enigma canon is one that requires the performer(s) to determine when the different parts enter. This piece, written in the Phrygian mode, consists of two melodies that performers can combine and recombine contrapuntally in any combinations they choose. Either melody can also be subjected to any of the contrapuntal transformation methods, such as inversion (playing it upside down), retrograde motion (playing it backwards), diminution (with shorter note values), augmentation (with longer note values), retrograde inversion (backwards and upside down), and so on. This recording by a large ensemble is merely one of an infinite number of possible realizations.
  • Chamber Music


    For Violin and Piano
    A work in progress

    Brevis Historia Mundi (A Brief History of the World)

    For Viola and Piano
    For Andrew Gonzalez.

    The Elements

    For Viola and Piano

    Each movement represents one of the four elements of classical philosophy: air, earth, water, and fire. There is a canon or fugue in each movement.

    Air: The middle section is a fugue. The word "fugue" derives from the Italian word for flight, making this form all the more appropriate for a piece about soaring, floating, and drifting.

    Earth: The opening section unfolds over a ground bass (a repeated melody in the bass), then the solo instrument takes up the ground bass theme. The middle section is a canon in 2 and 3 parts.

    Water: The middle section is a canon.

    Fire: A loosely structured double fugue (that is, one with two subjects, or themes). Each subject is treated in inversion (upside down), augmentation (with lengthened note values), and stretto (overlapping entries).


    For Unaccompanied Viola

    A work in progress based on the dances of the classical Baroque suite.

    Phrygian Enigma

    For String Quartet
    An a version of Phrygian Enigma for string quartet.

    Labyrinth:: A canon based on permutations of a single theme.

    Invocation and Dance: A canon based on a second theme.

    Scherzo: A canon that combines permutations of the themes from the first two movements.


    For String Quartet

    A musical representation of the myth of Aeolus from Homer's Odyssey.

    The Floating Island of Aeolia: Odysseus arrives at the floating island of Aeolia, home of Aeolus, Keeper of the Winds. He captivates his host with tales of his adventures.

    Aeolian Harp: The wind sings to the accompaniment of the Aeolian Harp.

    Homeward Blown: Aeolus provides Odysseus with a favorable wind that carries him and his fleet to within sight of their homeland.

    Odysseus's Lament: While Odysseus slept, his men opened a sack containing fierce winds that blew the ships back to Aeolia. The Greeks now lament their misfortune and beg Aeolus to help them once more.

    The Four Winds: Aeolus refuses to aid Odysseus a second time, so his ships are left to the vagaries of the four winds.

    String Quartet No. 3

    A work in progress.

    Three Canons for Two Oboes

    A canon is a musical form in which both instruments play exactly the same music but several beats apart.
  • Piano Music




    A work in progress.



    Toccata and Fugue

    The fugue subject is a variant of the opening theme of the Toccata. The fugue features three stretti (sections in which the appearances of the subject overlap with each other). Two of these stretti combine the subject in augmentation (its note durations doubled) with its original form. The other stretto presents the subject in inversion (upside down) and inversion with augmentation.

    Rain Dance

    The first theme of the slow middle section is a variant of the opening theme. You'll hear the patter of rain at various points.

    Ballad and Fugue on the Name Chelsea

    The main themes of each section of the Ballad, and the subject of the fugue, are based on the notes C B E Eb E A, which correspond to the letters C H E S E A (no L) in the German musical notation system. There is a stretto near the end of the fugue (the entries of the subject overlap).


    A passacaglia is built upon a sequence of notes repeated continuously in the lower register for the duration of the piece. The form was originally a dance.
  • Classical Guitar Music


    "Ludus" is Latin for "play" and is the origin of the words "prelude" and company.

    Palacio de la memoria

    The title means "Memory Palace." This composition represents memories emerging from the mists of the mind. The opening notes of the piece gradually metamorphose to assume many different forms, including a Spanish dance tune and a fugue subject.

    Fugue for Three Guitars

    Arrangement for 3 guitars of my fugue for piano (from the Toccata and Fugue)
  • Interactive Music

    Phrygian Enigma

    For Small Ensemble and Soprano
    A version of Phrygian Enigma meant to be performed with audience interaction. Audience members choose when instruments make their entrances. The recordings below are two possible realizations of the score. The vocal part is here played by the flute.

    Sunlight and Destiny:: Canon based on the first theme in original form.

    Into the Sky: A canon based on the second theme in various permutations.

    Scherzo: A canon that combines the first and second themes in various permutations.

    Ending: A canon based on the first theme in various permutations.


    These are interactive compositions that are performed by the listener. Each impromptu consists of multiple sound files that are triggered by user interactions and managed by playback algorithms encoded in a Python program. The versions recorded here were created by pressing keys on a computer keyboard to trigger the sounds. Another impromptu was part of Wall That Feels (WTF), an interactive art installation exhibited in Figment Boston 2018 on the Boston Greenway.