Poetry and Programming

Brian Kim Stefans at Poetry Magazine:

I often think that my obsession with Ezra Pound’s poetry was due to his well-known formula “DICHTEN = CONDENSARE” (dichten means “to write poetry” but also “to seal” or “to tighten” in German) or to those chestnuts from “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste,” such as “use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation [of the thing],” all of which was appealing because I was well practiced in reducing these programs to the bare minimum while still achieving their effects. No one wants to play a video game that is too slow or too easy or ends up in an uncontrolled loop (an early version of the spinning pizza of death) because of sloppy coding. One pleasure of programming is reducing many lines of unwieldy code to a few elegant ones, maybe as a function that can be called upon repeatedly. In some ways, I think this is a central pleasure in writing poetry as well—cutting lines, swapping out dull words for lively ones, interjecting a tonal shift that renders some strictly explanatory lines superfluous, and so forth—all while seeing the effect increase as the poem gets smaller.

more here.