Two years ago, I created a course at SFSU called Poetry Machines that began with the Futurisms, Italian and Russian, and concluded with Kenny Goldsmith, Caroline Bergvall, and Christian Bök. I had expected that Constructivism and a strict compliance with materialist philosophy might dominate the discussion, and for some students that was the case. Every week for three hours they removed their prosthetic devices of expression, lyricism, transcendence, depth, and "creativity" and allowed the machine / procedure / concept to have its way. The final class project was to present a poetry machine of their own. Along the way, I realized that my sympathies were with Khlebnikov's numerological prophecies, Jarry's math-driven Pataphysics, and Malevich's Suprematist period--art, in other words, that has a mystical and spiritual element. There's nothing wrong with machines; what matters is how they are designed and put to use. Ted Berrigan's sonnets were so alluring, because they put a 'new' machine, the cut-up, inside a worn-out but reliable old one. It's the same with contemporary musicians, who, through sampling techniques, offer an old song a new rhythm and cultural context. Think of Hal the computer from 2000: A Space Odyssey, down on his luck and drunk in a tavern, singing "Fly Me to the Moon" and "My Funny Valentine."
Here are two excerpts from a machine-driven poem of my own, joined for brevity and counterpoint (machines are often prolix and repetitive). Otherwise, I've not smoothed out the burrs and misfits. The fuel for the machine consisted of my own words (previous poems), placed into a word randomization program that allows the machine to be "tuned" before singing. I'm a little jealous of this work, because it is more radically lyrical than my other works and uses words like "adenose" and "cometits" I would never have considered.
All you’re indeed.inhumanity, god’s prettier movings
adenose willseeing, and rice, creation’s motherland,
and melodious cometits have their time. So of Oedipus
he painted ten sentences from enduring space,
the young under-familiar fence, songs its mouth-sign
and plain bad luck. Our shadow misbehaves, as if it couldn’t.
Beyond belfry, something crying. clearly mind.
Myrtles. Calm Ricardo magic. Them, should plotwear.
Lyric reason imitates season, earthbrook distraction, has contradiction than poetic double Portuguese hole that lines pain. Will feeling, along beyond itself.
Consciousness still plays. For sharpeningdogs may aloud clearly,
cries merely being,
to demand a beautiful breakway, all.