Small Poetry Machines

“A poem is a small ... machine made out of words.”

—William Carlos Williams
A two-meeting class + Summer 2015 session, School for Poetic Computation + Instructor, Nick Montfort

Why No GitHub, WordNet, or APIs?

Our class sessions will focus on what can be done by creating short, stand-alone programs. It turns out that there is a great deal we can do in this vein, and it allows us to concentrate on code and the workings of programs. We will look into at least one lightweight lexical resource, but the focus will be on using the built-in computational capabilities of programming languages with small, hand-crafted elements of data. We will be sketching and exploring, so will use iPython Notebook and simple text files instead of worrying, at this point, about version control.
Although they are self-contained as programs, the small poetry machines we will study, modify, and create will allow us access to the history of creative text generation and to the global creative practices that involve computation, language, and literary art.

Short, Self-Contained Text Generators for Study, Modification, & Use

Generated Books

Generating Compound Words in Python

Here is code representing an end-to-end process of opening an English word list and generating a lists of prefix, suffix lists for use directly in “Upstart,” even though it uses JavaScript and this work is done in Python. You can download either the iPython Notebook file or the corresponding “plain” Python file.

Topics Covered