Yes, There Is a Code Poetry Slam

Submissions are currently being accepted for Stanford University’s second “Code Poetry Slam.” The slam, sponsored by the university’s Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages, has a submission deadline of February 12, 2014 — and will be held sometime during “winter quarter” at the university. Serious entrants should be prepared to travel to the Stanford campus.

Cash prizes for the winners and free pizza are perks.

For information on the slam, be sure to see the slam’s web site, which has a lot of background, theory and examples.

Here is the winning poem from the first slam, “Say 23,” composed by Leslie Wu, a doctoral candidate in computer science:

According to I Programmer:

“Wu noted that when she was typing the code most people didn’t know what she was doing:

“They were probably confused and curious. But when I executed the poem, the program interpreted the code and they could hear words it gave voice to the code.”

Co-organizer of the competition Kurt James Werner, a graduate student in computer-based music theory and acoustics commented:

 “Wu’s poem incorporated a lot of different concepts, languages and tools. It had Ruby language, Japanese and English, was short, compact and elegant. It did a lot for a little code.'”

Here is the text of the poem “All A Men,” by Parwana Fayyez:

All A Men Parwana Fayyaz

In 11,000 nights of 10957.3 days,
A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A have confusingly digressed,
Their √(heroism)= meekness^ nerves
As results:
#1: while from @7 until @7, their women
[9A dots+ inside a green room+ beneath the bright sun+ under the blue sky]
<99.99%> each year child * by any other child,
#2:
A leaves, A comes, A changes dress, A slams the door, A slaps,
A enters her body, A behaves like a child, A leaves.
#3: evening: fear of nightfall +#1+#2, results
#4: midnight: [two A dots+ inside the crimson room+ the crescent moon+ a star]
A leaves at midnight, A born dead. The last A never comes again.
A is dead, A is dead, A is d..., A is …, A is…., A …, A…, A…………., [breathe]

There are various types of code poetry, this one differing from the code poetry of practitioners such as Ted Warnell, where the outcome is a visual-based piece.

Crystal Curry

Photo courtesy of Stanford Poetry Slam