Defining Terms

Code Poetry

A few months ago I was at a party and ran into the guy who runs the Astronaut Collective. Caroline Miller was also there (work) and we started having a conversation about code poetry. Unfortunately, I don’t think they really got it. Neither of them are programmers and they were more familiar with digital poetry like Puppy Flowers and UBU WEB, so I don’t think they understood the difference between code poetry and digital poetry.

What I was talking about is poetry written in computer programming language. Usually, it has to be at least compilable, but sometimes it is even executable (see Jabberwocky in the link below). Due to its flexible and conversational nature, Perl has often been used to write code poetry. In the article Jabberwocky and London.pl, there is a brief description of the history of code poetry, finishing with a description of the brilliant poem London.pl.

London.pl is a triptych that reinterprets both the text of William Blake’s ”London” and the relief etching that he used in his books of poetry. High resolution copies of the panels are available at the Mongrel web site, but the files are huge and they don’t have a text transcription of them. I emailed the contact address at the old Mongrel X site for permission to reproduce it, but got no response. I’ll just assume they’re fine with me distributing it, especially given the new mongrel.xorg site.

So, here are some more usable copies of London.pl:

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