This poem is a celebration of Nick Montfort’s “Taroko Gorge” and the more than 20 remixes made from its source code, leading to what I consider the beginning of a new born digital poetic form.
What Montfort has created with this poem generator is a way to find patterns in endless permutation of limited elements. But the poem is not in the endlessly looping textual output it produces, which is merely a temporary, every changing expression of an idea. The poem is in the moment a human intelligence reads that output, for however long is necessary, and realizes what the poet wanted to express with those output patterns. The poem is in the pattern, teased out through the manipulation of variables and endless tweaks to the code to get this darned engine to produce something that roughly gestures towards what we wish to express.
This is the same impulse that has driven poets to wrestle with language to get it to express what they need to say, using whatever language technologies they have at their disposal: orality, manuscript, print, typewriters, word processors, programming languages, or authoring systems.
There is a practical dimension to “TransmoGrify.” In addition to encoding insights gleaned throughout my readings of “Taroko Gorge” and its remixes, it gathers links to all the I ♥ E-Poetry entries for each of them. If you’re interested in what I had to say about the individual poems, you can access them all from the list of writers on the right hand column.