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 http://www.shroop.net/sharon/perlpoetrypaper.pdf (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.