Perl poetry

I wrote my first Perl poem when I had finished my thesis and was waiting for the final defense.  It is the back side of my acknowledgments page.  Not only is it a poem, it is a functioning Perl program, producing output text.  Unfortunately Perl version 5 changed a bit and it is no longer functioning with commonly available Perl interpreters.

This poem was published again in 2013 in Volume 5, Number 3 of the American Journal of Play, in the article 01010000 01001100 01000001 01011001: Play Elements in Computer Programming by Samantha Breslin.

Another was written for “Camels and Needles: Computer Poetry Meets the Perl Programming Language” by Sharon Hopkins, presented at the 1992 Usenix Winter Technical Conference and published in its proceedings, available from the author at (reprinted in The Perl Review Volume 0 Issue 1 (March 2002) though errors were introduced in that printing).  As she says, these are “human-readable creative writings in an existing computer language” and which is “poetry that not only has meaning in itself, but can also be successfully executed by a computer.”

It is an interesting form; Sonnets, haiku, limericks, etc. all force a structure or pattern to the poem.  Here, a wide range of word counts and patterns is allowable, but the constraints are that it be executable and that the output also be significant.  There is a further aesthetic goal that the use of non-operational free-form statements should be minimized, and that the non-textual elements should be visually deemphasized to leave as readable a text as possible.

The latest was written for Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin in Spring 2010.