Virtual Muse

Charles O. Hartman, Author Wesleyan University Press $15.95 (164p) ISBN 978-0-8195-2239-9
While it's the brainy, chess-playing computer that steals national headlines, Hartman is here to tell us that there are other machines (and human instigators) busy at work on metrical beauty and imagery. Writing in a voice that, thankfully, is neither geeky nor zealous, Hartman, a poet (Glass Enclosures) and professor of English at Connecticut College, lays out the basics of both programming and versifying, then introduces several programs he and colleagues, e.g., Jackson Mac Low and Hugh Kenner, have come up with to produce poetry. Essentially, these programs are random, and sometimes not so random, word generators. Lyrics pour through them much like radioactive dye flows through the veins of a body, illuminating the operation of a complex system, in this case, language. While such tracking captures the logical side of the writing process, it cannot touch the emotional. Until the day a processor becomes enamored of the bytes coursing through it and suddenly interrupts a spreadsheet to generate a sonnet, it is the human, notes Hartman in the cases explicated here, who tells the machine how and when to create. That said, this exploration will fascinate readers curious about what makes poetry, and how. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 164 pages - 978-0-8195-2238-2
Open Ebook - 164 pages - 978-0-8195-7257-8
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