Black Perl, a poem in perl 3

Black Perl is a famous 1990 poem written in the programming language perl, by its creator Larry Wall. It is both a poem and a program, and runs under perl 3. Read the rest

Leaves of Glass: Breaking Bad’s Walt Whitman fixation, and 'Ozymandias' deconstructed

At Poetry Magazine, TV critic Kera Bolonik answers the questions, "how does Walter White compare to Walt Whitman? And what cynical commentary on our times, on humanity, does series creator Vince Gilligan make with this subversive pairing?"

Some snippets from her answers: Read the rest

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Poe's The Raven as a studio exec's lament

Torgo's parody of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven is a particularly well-done example of the genre, which has many entrants (it's the Harlem Shake of poetry!):

Turning back, I saw them seated; feeling injured and defeated I approached and wanly greeted them: "Sylvester! Ms. Lenore! I sincerely hope you're thriving - had I known you were arriving I'd have sent out for reviving frappuccinos from the store; Frappuccinos, danish pastries, and spring water from the store - Next time, why not call before?"

The actor sat there, massive, with his craggy face impassive, And it seemed that I'd established neither good will nor rapport. The signs were not propitious; I thought it certainly suspicious That he came in train with vicious, feared and cynical Lenore - Still I leaned across the table and began to speak - "Lenore-" Quoth the agent: "Rambo IV!"

Coming soon: RIMBAUD - FIRST BLOOD (via Making Light) Read the rest

Automated constrained poetry, made from Markov Chains and Project Gutenberg

A "Snowball" is a poem "in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer." Nossidge built an automated Snowball generator that uses Markov Chains, pulling text from Project Gutenberg. It's written in C++, with code on GitHub. The results are rather beautiful poems (these ones are "mostly Dickens"):

o we all have heard people believe anything

i am the dawn light before anybody expected something disorderly

i am the very great change

Snowball (also called a Chaterism) (via Waxy) Read the rest

Grendel as Grinch

Ross sez, "I was reading Thomas Meyer's great new translation of Beowulf when the annual showing of The Grinch came on. The potential for a mash-up overwhelmed me, and this is the result."

Every Scylding in Heorot liked mead a lot, But Grendel the beast, roaring outside did not.

Grendel hated Scyldings, the whole Danish clan., Can I say why? I don’t think I can.

He spied on the Scyldings, he fumed and he wailed., He watched as in Heorot they drank mead and drank ale.

Grendel as Grinch Read the rest

Lord Buckley meets Groucho Marx

Nothing says Christmas like jazz poetry, and nothing says jazz poetry like Lord Buckley's appearance on You Bet Your life.

Lord Buckley recounts the life of Christ: The Nazz!

Earlier this month, I posted his version of "A Christmas Carol". Now, here's "The Nazz," Lord Buckley's indispensible biography of Jesus Christ.
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William Shatner talks slam poetry app

It's almost 10 PM in London and William Shatner is on the phone, sing-speaking the word "algorithm" to me, trying out various cadences. It feels a bit surreal.

An interpretation of "Fish's Night Song" poem from 1905

Above: Christian Morgenstern’s 1905 poem “Fish’s Night Song.”

Heinrich Plett in Literary Rhetoric, points out the obvious: “the referentiality of this isographemic configuration is polysemous.”

Fish's Night Song Read the rest

Shakespearean Hokey Pokey

A bit of genius unsourced net.stuff: if Shakespeare wrote the Hokey Pokey. "The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt/Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about."

Update: And we have a source! It's from a "Washington Post Style Invitational contest that asked readers to submit "instructions" for something (anything), but written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry was The Hokey Pokey (as written by William Shakespeare)", "Written by Jeff Brechlin, Potomac Falls, Maryland, and submitted by Katherine St. John." - Thanks, princessalex!

Shakespeare Teaches the Hokey Pokey Read the rest

Poem which uses all 100 Scrabble tiles

From the year 2000, Ben Engelsberg sez, "Mike Keith forumlated this brilliant poem using all 100 scrabble tiles for each of 6 verses in iambic pentameter."

A Scrabble-Tile Poem (Thanks, Ben!) Read the rest

Robert Browning's "Sordello" was not received well

Please read Robert Browning's Sordello and let us know if you agree with the sentiments expressed below.

Robert Browning spent seven years composing Sordello, a 40,000-word narrative poem about strife between Guelphs and Ghibellines in 13th-century Italy. It was not received well.

Tennyson said, “There were only two lines in it that I understood, and they were both lies: ‘Who will may hear Sordello’s story told’ and ‘Who would has heard Sordello’s story told.’”

Thomas Carlyle wrote, “My wife has read through ‘Sordello’ without being able to make out whether ‘Sordello’ was a man, or a city, or a book.”

Douglas Jerrold opened the book while convalescing from an illness and began to fear that his mind had been destroyed. “O God, I AM an idiot!” he cried, sinking back onto the sofa. He pressed the book on his wife and sister; when Mrs. Jerrold said, “I don’t understand what this man means; it is gibberish,” her husband exclaimed, “Thank God, I am NOT an idiot!”

Futility Closet: A Glass Darkly Read the rest

Step Gently Out: kid's poem illustrated with gorgeous macro-photo portraits of backyard bugs

Step Gently Out is children's picture book in which poet Helen Frost's verse accompanies the incredible garden insect photographs of artist/photographer Rick Lieder. I've written here many times about Rick's Bugdreams photos, and they never fail to impress and move me. Lieder's photographic portraits of bugs are all the sweeter for his method, which is to patiently crouch in his Michigan back-yard for hours and hours, waiting for the shot; it's a wonderful alternative to the traditional dead-bug-on-a-pin photos I grew up with.

Frost's poem is a sweet accompaniment to Lieder's pictures, a very light narration for photos that really speak for themselves. We got this book this week, and it's a real favorite with me and my four-year-old, and has sparked many conversations and bug-watching expeditions on the way home from day-care. To this end, there's a nice entomological appendix with interesting facts about all the bugs featured in the book.

Stunning close-up photography and a lyrical text invite us to look more closely at the world and prepare to be amazed.

What would happen if you walked very, very quietly and looked ever so carefully at the natural world outside? You might see a cricket leap, a moth spread her wings, or a spider step across a silken web.

In simple, evocative language, Helen Frost offers a hint at the many tiny creatures around us.

And in astonishing photographs, Rick Lieder captures the glint of a katydid’s eye, the glow of a firefly, and many more living wonders just awaiting discovery.

Read the rest


"With algorithms subtle and discrete, I seek iambic writings to retweet." Read the rest

Nursery Rhyme Comics: Great comic illustrators do Mother Goose

FirstSecond's new Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists is one of those rare parental treasures: a picture book that kids and parents can really enjoy together. Editor Chris Duffy invited some of the greatest names in comic illustration to choose their favorite Mother Goose classics and illustrate them to their taste.

The result is an absolute delight from the first page to the last. How can you not love a book that includes Jules Feiffer's "Girls and Boys Come Out to Play"; Lucy Knisley's "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" (a fantastic rock-n-roll reinterpretation of the original); Richard Thompson's "There Was An Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket"; Gahan Wilson's (!) "Itsy-Bitsy Spider"; Mike Mignola's "Solomon Grundy"; Jaime Hernandez's "Jack and Jill"; Jordan Crane's "Old Mother Hubbard"; Vera Bosgol's "There Was a Little Girl"; Gilbert Hernandez's "Humpty Dumpty" and Gene Yang's "Pat-a-Cake"?

That's nothing like a comprehensive list, by the way -- the table of contents for this set my mouth watering as soon as I saw it, and the live-fire bedtime exercise has been an unqualified success. My three year old is all over this like fudge on sundaes.

FirstSecond were kind enough to let me include a selection of opening pages from the book -- click through below to get a preview!

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists Read the rest

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