soft surface

digital journal, residency, and bookshop


soft surface publishes poetry and contemporary art projects by women, LGBTQIA, gnc folks, BIPOC, and/or otherwise marginalized voices. accepted contributors are paid. submissions are always open.

to submit work or request information on a digital residency, email me here.

Natalie Jane Edson
spring 2020

Natalie Jane Edson is a queer poet and computer programmer based in Portland, Oregon. Her artistic practice centers around process—a mix of algorithm, iteration, divination and letting the subconscious mind speak for itself. She published a chapbook, BALACLAVA, in June 2019 and is currently working on her debut full-length manuscript. You can check out her work at

residency statement:

DIPTYCH: an archival project in digital space

           I grew up

           I became myself and
           was haunted by it

               —Mary Ruefle

I. Memory

Diptych is an exploration of the relationship between art and artefact, the self to the self. I’ve
designed the project to make use of all the notebooks I have saved since I started writing poetry
ten years ago. By sourcing language and ideas from these notebooks throughout the course of
this residency, I will turn my physical possessions into digital art objects. I will create a museum
of memory.

II. Erasure

I have coded a special program that will allow two prose poems to exist next to each other on
the webpage, where each poem is only partially visible at any given moment. Every few
seconds, a word will disappear from one poem and a different one will appear in the other
poem. The process is randomized—every time you refresh the page, the poem will look
different. This randomness is designed to mimic the algorithm of memory, which is the way the
subconscious mind makes information available to us, allowing pieces of the work to be erased
then remembered with no legible reason.

III. Doubling

The number 2 is an invitation—it brings us into a realm of comparison, balance, and tension.
Perhaps most importantly, it brings us into a realm of intimate conversation. Ultimately, the
greater goal of this project is to perform a dance of coexistence with my past selves and be able
to process what I have written and discovered in real time. Accordingly, each “diptych” I create
will be accompanied by a reaction poem, a sort of label on the piece in lieu of title or context. I’ll
create 2 diptychs a week for 4 weeks—a doubling on a doubling on a doubling.

part one
part two