ias13 generative poetry assignment

Assignment Overview

In this assignment, each student will compose their own generative poem by remixing Chuck Rybak’s remix of Scott Rettberg’s and Mark Sample’s remix of Nick Montfort’s generative nature poem, Taroko Gorge.

There are three main goals for this assignment:

  • to rethink traditional notions about how one structures and composes a creative text
  • to consider how code can be employed to create texts the human mind might have considered
  • to employ and reflect on theories on electronic literature, code studies, and software studies

Assignment Specifics

To complete this assignment each student will complete the following:

  • download and install a text editor (for PC, I recommend HTML-Kit; for Mac, I recommend Smultron)
  • download the template file: generative-poem-assignment-s13.txt
  • open it in your text editor and immediately save it as a .html document on your computer
  • replace the words in the template with your own words based on a particular theme
  • maintain the T / G title structure when naming the poem: first word starts with T, second word starts with G
  • save the rough draft as: ias13-code-poem-rd-yourlastname.html; save the final draft as: ias13-code-poem-fd-yourlastname.html
  • follow the steps in the commented-out intro section of the assignment to upload the file to the Public folder your personal Dropbox account
  • tweet links to your drafts
  • compose a final blog post in which you link to and reflect on your composition

When creating a scene and coming up with words for your poems, think complexly and associatively. Consider remixing words from other texts that relate to your poem’s subject. Take risks and be bold. And have fun with it!


Please compose a blog post that includes a link to your generative poem and these two reflections:

  1. Discuss the subject matter and goals of your generative poem. What is it about? What did you hope to accomplish with it? Why did you choose the words and phrases you’ve chosen and how do you think they enhance the success of your goals and reinforce the subject matter? Point specifically to a few examples. Also, discuss how composing a poem in this manner has challenged you to rethink composing poetry, in general. I know some found it liberating, others constraining. But, I’d like you to move beyond those discussions. 450 – 600 words
  2. Discuss your generative poem in terms of the theories on ergodic literature, hypertext, and/or code studies that we read and discussed. Your goal should be to help a reader understand just how a generative poem could be considered a form of literature. Also, if a generative poem can be considered a kind of literature, what does that say about how one composes and structures literature, in general? 750 – 900 words

Due Dates

4/25: work in class on the generative poems
5/2: final draft of code poem due by class time
5/6: final daft of generative poem and reflections due by 11:00pm
5/8: reflections blog post due 11:00pm

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