Code Poetry Slam Gives An Artistic Voice To Computers

The winner used Google Glass to turn a computer into a digi-Shakespeare.

This past November, Standford University made JavaScript and computer code more alliterative, onomatopoetic, and generally artistic with the first Code Poetry Slam

Eight finalists, not exclusively from Stanford, were picked by the university's Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages to present work that ranged from your typical spoken word joints (*snaps* abound) that included terms and concepts from programming, to soliloquies written entirely in code. The poets were allowed to share their work in any way they wanted, which led to the winner, Leslie Wu, flipping the script on how we imagine a poem with her work, "Say 23." 

Wu, a Stanford Computer Science PhDc, wore Google Glass as she typed 16 lines of computer code that appeared on a screen as she simultaneously recited the code out loud. The student then ran the code (literally, flipping the script), forcing the computer to read Psalm 23 three separate times in three separate, recorded computer voices. This is like the poetic side of Siri that we never imagined. 

Here's what "Say 23" looked like in code: 

#!/usr/bin/env ruby require 'rubygems' # gratitude require 'nokogiri' # arigato h=Nokogiri::HTML (`curl http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=KJV&interface=print`) .css(".text").text.split(/\W/) %w(Zarvox Princess Cellos).each{|v|`say -v #{v} #{[9,7,9,123,9,42,55,118,104,108,6,7,100,10,95,96,86,76,120,72,106,107,63,32,42] .map {|i|h[i]}.join(' ')}`}

Wu told Standford, "The code itself had its own synthesized voice, and its own poetics of computer code and singsong spoken word." In other words, this is the language of technology at its finest. You can see the other submissions over at Code Poetry Slam site.

The organizers hope to make this event more regular, and are already accepting submissions for the next slam. If you were to turn any poem into code, what would you pick? We're thinking of some Alexander Pope or maybe Billy Collins -- E.E. Cummings' warped punctuation might be a bit (pun unintended) much. 

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