John Cayley

John Cayley is a London-based poet, translator, publisher and bookdealer. Links to his writing in networked and programmable media are at His last printed book of poems, adaptations and translations was 'Ink Bamboo' (London: Agenda & Belew, 1996). Cayley was the winner of the Electronic Literature Organization's Award for Poetry 2001 ( He is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of English, Royal Holloway College, University of London, and has taught and direct research at the University of California San Diego and Brown University, amongst other institutions. His most recent work explores ambient poetics in programmable media, with parallel theoretical interventions concerning the role of code in writing and the temporal properties of textuality (bibliographic links are available from the shadoof site).

Literal Art


John Cayley dadas up the digital, revealing similarities of type across two normally separate, unequal categories: image and text. “Neither lines nor pixels but letters,” finally, unite.

Literal Art (sidebar)


Sidebar images from “Literal Art: Neither Lines nor Pixels but Letters.”

John Cayley responds in turn


John Cayley replays what is literal and literary in the digital.

Bass Resonance


1999 e-literature award winner John Cayley writes about Saul Bass of classic film title fame. A precursor to language arts innovators Jenny Holzer, Richard Kostelanetz, and Cayley himself, Bass may now be recognized as a poet in his own ‘write,’ important for a new generation of designwriters creating “graphic bodies of language,” moving words and signifying images, in digital environments.

Hypertext '97


John Cayley reviews the Hypertext ‘97 Conference, which brought together representatives from corporate and academic sectors.

The Code is not the Text (unless it is the Text)


An argument against the collapse of categories by an author who has, yes, himself perpetrated a few codeworks.

Why Did People Make Things Like This


A cyber (hyper) text reading through Copeland, Gibson, and Christopher Dewdney, with breaks for speculation on form and opacity. Is there a manifesto buried in here? You decide.

John Cayley's response


“Playing with play,” John Cayley sets ludology on an even playing field with literature, but without literary scholarship’s over-reliance on ‘story,’ ‘closure,’ and ‘pleasure.’