Electronic book text
May 1, 2011
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
$12.99 USD, £9.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Virtual Muse

Experiments in Computer Poetry

A poet-programmer explores the intersection of reading, writing, and computing.

In this engaging, accessible memoir, Charles Hartman shows how computer programming has helped him probe poetry's aesthetic possibilities. He discusses the nature of poetry itself and his experiences with primitive computer-generated poetry programs and — illustrated with sample computer-produced verses — traces the development of more advanced hardware and software.

The central question about this cyber-partnership, Hartman says, "isn't exactly whether a poet or a computer writes the poem, but what kinds of collaboration might be interesting." He examines the effects of randomness, arbitrariness, and contingency on poetic composition, concluding that "the tidy dance among poet and text and reader creates a game of hesitation. In this game, a properly programmed computer has a chance to slip in some interesting moves."

About the Author

CHARLES O. HARTMAN is Professor of English and Poet in residence at Connecticut College, author of Glass Enclosure (Wesleyan Poetry, 1995) and Jazz Text (1991), and coauthor of Sentences (1995). His prose program is available on the World Wide Web. Hartman's memoirs about how computer programming helped him probe poetry's aesthetic possibilities.


"In this fascinating book, Hartman explores what he has learned of human poetry by attempting to create computer programs and, further, by attempting to write a simple poem–a dialogue of mind and body–with a computer as compositional partner . . . An absorbing, authoritative, and astonishingly accessible book."—Booklist


"In Virtual Muse Charles Hartman tells us a lucid minimum about what programs do, in the course of setting before us much that we may never have suspected about the inner secrets of poetry. It's a rich and rewarding book."—Hugh Kenner

"Hartman takes a clear, intelligent, interesting, accessible approach to relating computers to culture and writing. His delightful opening chapter really pulls one into his subject; he keeps us there by his easy, often graceful way of explaining aspects of computing, poetic theory and practice, and the implications of what he is doing."—George P. Landow, Brown University

"Charles Hartman's colloquial ease and his ability to move readily into metaphorical overdrive without seeming fanciful are a constant source of pleasure. He writes graceful, jargon-free prose on a subject that often — especially in the hands of the 'language poets' and their apologists — inspires only cant and obfuscation. Hartman is the Amerigo Vespucci of a whole new intellectual territory, and Virtual Muse is a map worth studying."—Thomas M. Disch, author of The Castle of Indolence
Wesleyan University Press
Wesleyan Poetry Series

9780819572578 : virtual-muse-hartman
Electronic book text
164 Pages
$12.99 USD

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